I’ve spent a lot of time staring out the window this year. A lot. This makes me sound sort of whimsical or dreamy or a bit like I have my chin cupped thoughtfully in my hand right now, but I am not and I would never. I didn’t used to spend any significant length of time looking out of windows at all, unless it was to keep from getting carsick on long trips, or there was something really good happening outside, like when our downstairs neighbours were having an incredibly amiable argument and the one kept calling the other one a dickface and then collapsing with laughter and then saying, I’m serious though. A DICKFACE. Before this year, I would say that I had a low opinion of staring out the window as an activity. What about books, or the internet? What about a hobby such as knitting? You should go for a swim or something. Keep busy. The only reason to do it would be if you had exhausted all alternatives and you had literally nothing else to look at or do, and no one to talk to. I might have even gone so far as to say that the only circumstances under which it was acceptable to stare out the window for hours and fucking hours on end was if you were in jail. I am talking about ordinary windows, opening out onto ordinary things. Obviously, you have my full permission to appreciate a beautiful view. I would never judge you for staring unblinkingly at a mountain range for a long time, although I would eventually start to wonder what you were thinking about as you were doing that.
It is pretty hard luck on me and my sense of what is a worthwhile use of time, then, that I have become a person who stares avidly out the window from the minute I wake up. This is apparently what happens if you live in a city that nearly, nearly ran out of water only a very short while ago. You stare out the window as if your life depends on it. If it’s raining, I keep looking in order to show appreciation and commend the clouds for their efforts. “Congrats”—that’s me telling the weather that it’s doing a good job. It seems churlish to look at anything else when rain is happening, especially after last winter, when it just didn’t rain at all and I couldn’t even watch someone running a bath on TV. I had to close my eyes for most of The Shape of Water, partly because that movie was revolting, but mostly because of all the bathing everyone kept doing, all that standing around blinking at each other with the taps going full blast. Unbearable. If it’s overcast, I look out the window and keep looking in case it changes. If it’s sunny, I look and keep looking because I’m used to it now, and it seems important.
It’s raining today. When I walked to work it wasn’t raining, but now it is, hard enough to leave puddles on the street that the cars have to hiss through. Not hard enough to overburden the gutters on the building across the road, but the day is young. The best is when it rains so hard that the water shoots out of the gutters in a neat, noisy fountain and bounces off the corrugated iron roof next door. This has happened several times in the last few months, and I am always faithfully on hand to watch. “Thank you and well done”—that’s me telling the weather that I am impressed. I’m not insane. I don’t think the weather has a consciousness. I don’t imagine it would give a shit what I think even if it did have a consciousness. This is just a thing that I do now. It’s my hobby, if we expand the definition of the word to include participating in an activity that makes you very worried almost all of the time. According to my enemy the weather report, it’s going to stop raining in a few hours and then it will be windy for a while, and then later it’ll start raining again. Tomorrow it is going to rain again, allegedly, and Thursday, and Friday. On Saturday it’ll be sunny and on Sunday it will be very sunny, apparently. We will just see about that.