It’s been years, over a decade actually, since I had any interest in sun bathing. Funny, because for a girl like me growing up in New Jersey, that obsession usually begins in adolescence.

Whether we were driving to the Jersey Shore or sitting in a lounge chair in our suburban backyard, it was all about the cultivation of the almighty tan beginning every spring. Plans to “lay out” were our norm. Buying clothes that would “look great with a tan” was part of the summer ritual. When I was 18 I had a summer job as a cashier and I would leave work at 2:30 and come home to put on my swimsuit and recline in the big inner tube in our pool to catch what rays were left in the day.

Since going urban in 1998 and also paying actual attention to what sun bathing does to our skin, I’ve wondered a few times what I might have accomplished in my life if I hadn’t spent all that time trying to make my skin darker. No real regrets, but I share this now because I think it has a lot to do with my adoration of – yes — overcast days.

One recent day I woke up to what appeared to be skies threatening rain. Maybe. Not definitely. No sun. A warm breeze. Various shades of gray in the clouds, but never going all the way to charcoal on the spectrum.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. I must be out in it.

That was my thought as I donned yoga pants, a tank top, sneakers and a backpack with a spiral notebook, pen, Conde Nast Traveler magazine, reading glasses, iPod, phone and wallet. Most people reserve this kind of glee for blaring sunshine. I like those days, too, but something about the gray brings my personality bubbling up.

I walked along the Hudson River, enjoying the boats flitting along and smiling at some fellow walkers. About 10 blocks up I stopped for some delicious Kona coffee and a garden omelette made from fresh local vegetables, but on the walk back I lingered in the grayness. I sat in a pretty little gazebo and enjoyed the Empire State Building to my left and the Freedom Tower to my right.

What a respite.

My annual beach vacation is coming. I so hope there is one gray day, the kind where the rain threatens but never comes. There are pleasantly diminished expectations of that sort of day. Fewer people come to the beach, so it has a tranquil vibe. If it’s really ideal it will be just breezy enough that I must wear a sweatshirt, but warm enough that my feet are bare. The sand will be cool to the touch. I will read for hours without moving. I’ve consumed whole novels this way. This is not the day for flipping through a magazine, but rather one that invites investment of time, commitment to a story.

The overcast day. Some call it gloomy. I call it heaven.

By Nancy Colasurdo

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