Rainy Night in New Orleans

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When I was growing up, my Mama would open up all the windows and doors when it rained in New Orleans. She loved everything about the rain here. She could smell it in the air before a single cloud formed in the sky.

When it rained, she would burn candles and incense, cancel all noise, meaning no TV or talking on the phone. The only sound she wanted to hear was sheets of rain hitting the rooftop and pavement along with the booming and clapping of thunder. She would sit on the living room sofa with the door wide open enjoying the sight, smell, and sound of the rain while popping cans of cold beer. I noticed she would switch up her rain-watching routine depending on the time of day and type of rain. Weekend morning short rain with the sun peeking out called for sitting in the kitchen sipping coffee and reading the Bible. Friday nights or late dark Sunday afternoons called for the blues, particularly Johnny Taylor blasting from the stereo. In the middle of the night, when it rained”Cats and Dogs” that wake you up out of your sleep, thunderstorm rain meant pillows over my head trying to drown out “Bob Marley.” My Mama would either be in the kitchen or living room smoking a joint and cleaning by candlelight. We never caught a contact because the wind would carry the smoke straight out the back door.

So, today when she called to ask how the rain was, I told her I would do as she used to. After we got off the phone, it started to rain hard, I mean really hard, and the wind was howling and blowing stuff around. I forgot about the Tropical Storm heading our way. It died down a bit, so I opened the door, and the air flowed around my body in a tight hug. It reminded me of opening the door up to a long-lost love. That feeling, combined with the sound of the rain, was intoxicating. I never understood why my Mama loved the rain so much until then.

It was a spiritual awakening in a sense. I felt something come over me, a sense of peace and comfort. I felt overwhelmed by the love and the memories of my loved ones who have passed on.

I found myself creating my very own Rainy Day Routine too. If you know me, I have my TV on just to keep me company. I need some type of noise in the backdrop, especially when I’m home alone. And unlike the typical adult woman who may watch reality shows or like my sister’s crime tv, I watch cartoons. I’m a big fan of The Simpsons, Family Guy, and such. Yes, I will have one of those shows while I’m doing other stuff like now, lol. It’s hard for me not to have that good comfort, but tonight, I cut it off. No, I did not turn on the radio, nor did I get on the phone. I was alone with the rain.

As I sat in my living room, the wind seems to have picked me up and brought me to the kitchen, where I started cooking. I would end up making red bean and rice, fried catfish, and cornbread muffins. As the red beans boiled off, I went to gather up clothes to wash. My son laughed at my unusual singing vibe as I sang a song asking him for his Funky Clothes. I stripped down curtains and tossed them into the machine. I pulled up rugs, shook em out, beat them on the rail, and left them outside to air. I swept and mopped my floors while a burst of wind spun me into a tango then fluttered out the door. I was overcome with joy, or shall I say, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”

Like my Mama, I burned white candles and incense in honor of my ancestors. I also burned Sage and Rue. As I carried the smoking cauldron to smudge my house, I wondered if this is what my Mama felt on her Rainy NOLA Days. My heart became heavy as I thought of my people who have gone on to rest. I wonder they miss the earthy sweet smell of the rain. Almost immediately, the thought of the soulful cheering sounds of the droplets dancing on the roof and the ground belong to them. I imagine children who left us too soon playing in puddles. Their little feet stomps the water into the dry soil.

All this and more came to me on a Rainy Day in New Orleans, and instead of me retreating into feeling sad and depressed about them being gone. I had a sense of peace for the first time. I’m at the last grieving stop where I can envision them still being here, being a part of me. I’m not sure if it was the rain, but not only did I feel their presence, I felt their love.

A funny thing happened too. My Auntie Grace came by, and she called herself, moving a basket I had by my kitchen door and attempted to close it because I was burning sage. I shouted, “Don’t come over here moving my stuff around. You wouldn’t let me do it to your house.

When she left out the back door, and without pulling it close herself, a big gust of wind blew the house, and the door slammed on her as if saying, ” Get the F outta here.” She opened the door back up and said, “Damn, you could have told me to get out! What you can shut doors on people now?” I told her it was one of our ancestors who was tired of her, and she was holding the door open for her since she came in.

But seriously, I live in a shotgun house, and it was the effects of having the front door open. When it’s windy and doors are open, some will fly shut, especially the back door.

My first Rainy Day Routine was inspiring, joyous, and very much well needed.

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