Breaking My Own Myth, or why I now carry an umbrella

How many visitors and relocated folk have I told “You can always tell a non-native on a rainy day: they are the ones carrying an umbrella.”? Countless times.

I was born and grew up in Port Angeles, Washington. For those reading this not familiar with the state it is across Puget Sound from Seattle, on the Olympic Peninsula. On a sunny day our yard had a view of Canada across the Straight of Juan de Fuca. This is rain forest country.

I was never a big fan of dolls. Dolls, like clowns gave me the “heebie jeebies” (and spell-check doesn’t quite know what to make of that!) trucks, caterpillars, sticks, digging foxholes in the empty lot, following clues to heaven knows what, empty boxes, my bike. Oh my glorious 3 speed Raleigh, black with a white fender detail…I can hear Richie Havens singing the “Freedom” song now…

Anyway, I liked to play outside and here in the Pacific Northwest, if you don’t play in the rain, you don’t get to play outside much of the year. Umbrellas are a hindrance to play unless they are furled and used in faux sword fights. We just got wet, we wore hoods or hats…or not…because we got wet anyway.

As an adult I carried this tradition. An umbrella was a hassle, they get in the way, they blow open backwards and break in the wind and when the rain stops you’re stuck carrying this wet dripping stick with fabric on it. I ran in the rain and in the snow, rode my motorcycle in the rain, walked in the rain.

Then just a few years ago I rediscovered the advantages of taking the bus. Of course this rediscovery happened in the summer also known as August. Fall came, the rain came, the bus was late, extremely late and my bus stop was not equipped with a bus rider shelter. I had a good raincoat with a hood and all my stuff was in a backpack. I listened to tunes and waited. Now, this wasn’t drizzle, this was creditable rain. Soon drops of water were falling off my hood. Eventually even my great raincoat succumbed and sprung a leak.

Eventually the bus came, I got on and opened my backpack to retrieve my book: Wet with a capital “W”. Purse: Wet, work shoes: Wet, paper lunch sack that I used day after day: soaked back to its pre-paper pulp stage. ‘Twas then I decided to bust my own myth. I was born and mostly raised in the Pacific NW, and…these days…I DO carry an umbrella and I sometimes wonder how many Washingtonians point me out “…not from around here”…

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