There is something about the air after a thunderstorm. It smells a little sharper; feels a little more electric.
I missed the light show part of tonight’s storm, but even hearing the spectacular boom and crack of the thunder, and the cadence of hard rain on the GLT rehearsal space rooftop was enough to remind me just how much I love a thunderstorm.
I’m normally a water person. I get recharged and do my best thinking near bodies of water: streams, waterfalls, the occasional lake, when I can get to one. The first time I realized that it wasn’t just the water part of a good, violent thunderstorm that energizes me was when I was in high school. A bunch of us crammed ourselves into someone’s station wagon and drove to Wasaga Beach on a whim, Depeche Mode’s Violator tape in the deck. It was off season, so the beach wasn’t busy, but the weather was warm enough that we spent a good few hours there. Just before sunset, I climbed up into one of the guard chairs and watched as a lightning storm rolled across the lake. Dark and light, colour and gray, actual calm being chased by a true storm. It was primal nature and it made me feel like I was buzzing and fizzing. Restless. Undone.
Of course, the rain part of a thunderstorm, especially one at the end of summer, can be just as powerful. The summer before my third year of university was hot, and dry. The day we finally got rain, a roommate and I were out riding our bikes, looking at apartments for September. The rain, when it finally came, came in sheets with great fanfare. The rain smelled electric. The sizzling sound of it hitting the hot pavement was a quiet echo of the lightning splitting the air. We got home, drenched, and then danced in the front yard out of sheer joy.
Years later, I lived on the 20th floor of an apartment building in downtown Toronto. The balcony was solid concrete, deep and safe, with a wall of windows looking out it. We faced Lake Ontario and the CN Tower, and my then-husband and I looked forward to shutting off the lights and sitting on the balcony together to watch a thunderstorm roll in off the lake. We would watch the advancing curtain of water, and count the seconds between the light and the crack and the boom, taking guesses at how long it would take for the blast of air before the rain to reach us.
Now, when I can, I stand on my front porch, and I try to watch for the curtain of water. I can still feel the sizzle, the zzt of the air, the electricity dripping from my fingers. I miss my balcony, but I still count the seconds between light and sound. I hope that someday I’ll dance on the lawn again, with wild abandon, and primal joy.