Yesterday I was doing the washing up in my bra and undies.
I hesitated on the undergarment terminology for a second there, but yes. I’d like to say knickers but that suggests lace, and the word panties makes me want to stick my finger down my throat. Or make random accusations of paedophilia. Nope, they’re definitely undies when you’re sweating it out over the sink.
I wasn’t trying to give the neighbours a show. Nor was I getting ready for a surprise visit from the electrician, wow wow wackka wackka wow wow. There just wasn’t any point in wearing clothes. It was 32 degrees, eleventy hundred percent humidity and I’d already had my second shower for the day around noon.
This time of year in Darwin is perverse. It’s even worse when you go from a sanctuary of air conditioning into the fray. When I was working, to go get lunch we’d have to cross two alleyways of pavement to awning concrete. My friend Anna used to call it 30 seconds on High. It was a gauntlet you’d brave only to grab a sandwich or laksa.
The build up makes you fantasise about rain. Dream about rain. You can be doing something really nice, like getting a massage or eating a piece of cake and you think, how much BETTER would this be if it was raining? You count clouds. You refresh the BOM website. You start tapping your veins. You’d break into someone’s car to get rain if it was sitting on the passenger seat.
And I moved to Darwin FOR the rain. I was tired of drought and water restrictions and the lit up sign on Barry Drive that reported how low the dam levels were in Canberra. I wanted lush green lawns and tropical gardens. I wanted to be in a town where the locals watered their driveways.
Most Territorians encourage people to visit in the Dry Season. I waxed lyrical about all the rain you could see from December to February.
You can just sit on the verandah and watch it, I enthused.
Well, Mother Nature must have felt sorry for this rain crack addict. Or she wanted me to put some clothes on. At around 3am this morning, it rained.
No, it didn’t just rain. It poured. Fat rain, horizontal rain, stinging rain. The lightning curled around the street lights, the thunder smashed like dinner plates. 98 millimetres at the airport, 85 at Nightcliff pool.
When I lived in Tonga, they had a word for rain that heavy: faka’uha. And yes, it’s pronounced as per the expletive. Faka’uha was rain you could have a bath or shower in. Whenever there was a downpour, I remember my Tongan host mother grabbing the shampoo and running outside to lather up. The chickens and pigs would be scuttling for cover, but she’d be out in the yard, singing in the shower.
I should have gone out at 3am this morning to faka’uha.
When I woke up again, the rain had finished. The sky was grey and the air was cooler and I could think again.
By lunchtime the steam was rising.
And in two hours I’ll be washing up in my bra and undies again, tapping my veins, sweating into the sink and dreaming of rain again.