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SCRUB KINGS // 26 Jan 2015

January 27, 2015

SCRUB KINGS
26 Jan 2015

SCRUB KINGS! The peeling sign shrieked at us as we rolled by at seventy, spitting New Mexico dust up behind us in a dense matte cloud. It was shocking turquoise and red against the drab desert backdrop, a scene so unchanging over hundreds of miles that it may as well have been on a repeating loop behind our car in a studio somewhere in L.A. It was cracked and faded but its slanted oval shape and bubbly white outlined lettering screamed FIFTIES! as we passed, alone on the freeway as we had been for hours save for a few local battered pickups and one obnoxiously gleaming black SUV that clearly wanted nothing to do with this particular part of their Grand American Southwest Adventure.

The speed limit said fifty five but that may as well have been the time limit because as we came up to the rambleshack old car wash, it seemed as though nothing had changed. Sponges still miraculously on shelves on the inside, barely visible through tall windows thick with reddish dirt. A hose still splayed on the cracked and weedy pavement. Probably a charge for the last wash floated in there somewhere.

Kings they must have been, running a wash in the middle of a great whopping desert. Catering to folks like the SUV clan (long gone by the time we turned around to inspect the establishment), not wanting to roar into town in a dirtied cadillac or Chrysler, take your pick, all sparkling chrome and purest of cream white tops. Probably painted red or turquoise as the old relic itself.

Either kings or paupers because no one wanted to bother getting all souped up in the middle of the desert only to get blasted the moment they hit the road again. Paupers who saved and opened their dream, or the closest they could get to their dream. High hopes in SCRUB KINGS. An investment, a buried treasure. Open sesame. But one thousand and one New Mexico knights rattled on by, ignoring the modern sanctuary, opting to stay secluded in newfangled cooled-air cars and hurry on to ABQ, Sante Fe. Closing the entrance with a thud, locking the glass door with a puff of dust, peering sadly through for one last time, and moving on.

The car shuddered to a stop; the engine welcomed a break to cool off, relatively, under the shade of the drooping roof. We stepped out into the blast furnace of the New Mexico lowlands in July, felt the dry crackling energy and collected a thin film of dust on suntanned skin. Four feet on the cement, probably the first it had felt in years. Couldn’t say the same of snake bellies and scurrying scorpion legs. Hungry coyote paws padding across in the night.

We wandered the small area in silence, taking in the contrast of futile human construction and vast expanse of harsh nature, blue sky fading to a weird grey above distant mountains, parched land all stretched out and bare beneath. Grey cement bare beneath our boots. Scraggly tenacious spiked things poked out from fractures.

Funny that this should exist in the midst of a land chock full of roadside signs boomed NATIVE AMERICAN ART THIS EXIT! ALL VEHICLES WELCOME!

REAL NAVAJO JEWELRY!
BLANKETS ONLY 7.99! EXIT NOW!

Nagging for history, history advertised and packaged and sold to unwitting passers-by, a mockery of nations, capitalism exploiting people as it always has. What’s a dreary old car wash when compared to an ANCIENT INDIAN CITY OF ROCK (est. 1943)? Nothing.

We stretched our legs a little more and climbed back in. Cool air blasted as the engine hummed back to life. The tires crunched over dirt and gravel as we turned back for the highway, headed for Albuquerque. SCRUB KINGS quickly obscured by time and dust.

First – Chill – then Stupor : Requiem

January 26, 2015

The mind is blank and wandering. To quote Dickinson: “First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –” but the Stupor stubbornly lingers. A trance, a waking dream.

It crept up on me soon after I woke up. I felt it welling up, that familiar looming sense of sadness. Heavy sadness. The densest sadness you’ve ever felt. So dense it chokes you, stops your breath, catches your words and puts them to sleep. Accompanied by, at first, an onslaught of thoughts that so overwhelms and overtakes – a push to write, to expel, to overflow. But nothing lasts – all transient, rushing up and screaming wordlessly then dissipating back into the fog. Lost words worlds whirls of half-thought. The most understated sort of overwhelming you can imagine. Paralyzing. A paralysis to reckoned with through forced mindless motion.

I took to wandering the city, cold and grey and windy. I walked shiftlessly in and out of shops, mumbling out small talk as I made impulse purchases and swallowed sighs. A mug, some buttons, a turquoise scrabble letter that stood out from the rest of stagnant life. Etched in black ink, an A. The font spoke to me. I pinched it. Its wooden corners dug into my soft fingerpads. I focused on that. Kept it in my pocket as I strayed. Kept myself grounded, anchored in a relatively safe shore, unable to drift deeper into darker, murkier waters of my mind.

Pinch. Stab. Reality.

I passed a used bookstore, changed my mind – though not really, that implies a decision. I began to pass a bookstore and found myself pushing the door open slowly. I realized I hadn’t taken a breath in a while. I breathed in shallowly, then, catching the familiar scent of yellowed pages and dust, a little deeper – though the smell was loosely associated with anxiety, being overwhelmed at choice and fleeing in the face of making a decision. I braved it and went in. The Bell Jar floated across my mind and I headed to the Ps in fiction. No Pl, though. I wasn’t in the mood to browse so I headed for the exit but at the last moment turned and asked the shop keeper if Plath would be anywhere but fiction.

She wrote some poetry, he said. Anything in particular you’re looking for?

The Bell Jar, I said.

There should be one around here.

He left his stool behind the glass-topped counter and began to poke around the labyrinthine shop. The shelves were pretty well organized but there were toppling stacks of books at the end of each row – bookends made of books. I watched him search in silence. He checked stacks, shelves, and the hardcover section before muttering something about there might be one in storage waiting to come out. Then he walked out the front door jingling keys.

I assumed he was going to storage.

I waited. Flipped through a rack of old postcards. Stared at my shoes. Sighed a most insignificant sigh. Waited some more.

He came back empty-handed and apologetic. I quietly thanked him for looking and left, back into the biting wind. I hunched my shoulders and tucked my chin and walked on.

I thought about buying a notebook and pen and huddling up somewhere to write but I didn’t want to spend more money. I didn’t want to be under fluorescent lights, either. They’re terrible for depression, I’ve heard, and I believe it. Those late nights a few years ago in the dorms when you’d walk into the communal bathroom and see your own face shocking and dark and surreal in the mirror, end up staring too long at your own eyes and wonder – blink and rush out without washing your sweating hands, heart pounding. Moments of sought solitude at social gatherings only to be confronted with that twisted representation of yourself. It’s jarring. Bell jar. Sylvia plath. Ovens.

So fluorescent lights were out. I headed south, towards the art museum. I had been there the day before but the notebook in which I had jotted down names of artists to explore had slipped out of my back pocket – karma for hip. I’ve learned my lesson. Oceans behind my eyes. Waves crashing, forming temporarily before crashing and eddying away in the tides of thought – unable to catch one, pin it down. Perhaps freeze it but it wasn’t cold enough to freeze tides yet.

The marble tiles tilted a little as I walked into the hushed, humid lobby. I checked my coat and my mug and began to walk around, now with purpose. I remembered vaguely which pieces had piqued my interest and I headed for those. An exhibit on women in minimalism was on its last day – there were a few in there. Cloudlike grids, lines, simple shapes, colors. It made sense. Black and white photographs. Boiled-down reality. Easy to connect with. A long Chinese scroll depicting misty bamboo forests. A set of delightfully painted gold-coated ancient coasters.

My list complete, I returned to the first floor and went for my coat when I heard music floating ambiguously through the air. Strange, lilting, sad strings soon joined by chorale. I followed it to its source: a scandanavian artist’s film piece. A man suspended in a harness by a crane, hovering over a full string ensemble and choir arranged quite formally in a street somewhere in Europe in front of a sad apartment building. One flat’s windows blown out, shattered. I leaned against a wall and watched, quickly absorbed in the music and the footage of rolling green hills and farms in germany, france, poland. A shot of a river in India, related to alexander the great’s conquest – where it was forced to a halt by his own men. Refused to go on. Internal defeat.

Almost an hour later, it ended. I was alone in the dark, soundproofed room as the last credits rolled. I sat, completely absorbed in the experience. I sat unthinking until the film started again. I watched as it played again, another fifty four minutes of artful videography and a gorgeous requiem. A few other people came and went but they barely registered. I was no longer sitting in a dark room in a museum in Michigan in the winter. I was skimming along treetops in Europe and mourning the death of chopin. Contemplating existence, everything, without needing defined thought. I watched it again and again until the museum closed. Reluctantly I left, forced to rejoin the harsh outside world with laughing college students and coffee shops and money and bright, bright lights and brazen sound. Garish. Utterly jolting. Jarring. The bell jar. Requiem for the bell jar.

Colorado experiences. May 2014.

May 11, 2014

“Sweet rocky mountain paradise my ass.” I reached down and turned off John Denver’s crooning so I could focus on the road, which was barely visible through the grey blur of rain and pounding hail driven by a forty-mile-an-hour westward wind. The rain had started innocently enough but I had been driving towards the storm for about two hours, watching the dark clouds grow closer and increasingly menacing. Visible for dozens of miles because it’s eastern Colorado, basically flat open rangeland with a few small rolling hills to emphasize its non-Nebraskaness. I knew it was coming to me, or rather I to it, but didn’t exactly what I was in for until the rain turned quickly from drops to angry splatters to a terrifying downpour that forced me off the road. I took refuge under a gas station roof for a while, waiting for nature to abate, but it didn’t so I made my way sloshingly down main street and found an auto store, where I ducked in and found a cheap but new set of wiper blades that would doubtless perform better than the ancient ones that now swung pointlessly to and fro in the deluge. The rain let up briefly and I installed them and headed back for the highway, hopeful that the storm had passed but it had just moved a bit and I drove straight back into it. It was hailing much harder there, and had apparently been for some time because the road was coated in a good two or three inches of the blasted stuff. I drove through it like a grandma in a 1980s Buick, hunched over the wheel, grimacing at every crunch and thwack, scooting along at a meager twenty. I watched a tumbleweed scurry across the ice in front of me, a bizarre sight in the midst of this raging winter (spring?) storm. Surreal.

But I pressed on and in an hour or so I was clear of even the rain, though some clouds still hung resolutely above but made no move to threaten the rest of my journey. I arrived in Boulder in high spirits, having watched the still snow-capped mountains emerge from behind their cloud curtain for a few minutes as if to peek out and welcome me, then shrink back into hiding. It was good to be back. Zoe and I headed into town immediately as I was in desperate need of food and drink. Did I want a beer? Most definitely. We were at Mountain Sun, a thriving local establishment of good food and brews, and I had the darkest stout they had and it was good. The reuben wasn’t bad either. Either from the altitude or dehydration from driving for two days, or more likely both, those sixteen ounces stuck with me for a good portion of the afternoon, well into our hike to a local small summit. But there aren’t too many negative words to say about hiking in good old Colorado’s front range with a little buzz, a little lightheadedness to make the views all the more ethereal.

The town of Boulder is a bit odd. The “Boulder bubble,” they call it. You can see others deeply enmeshed in said bubble but it’s difficult to watch yourself slip through its pearly translucent edge. It remains a favorite haunt of climbers, runners, bikers, and other outdoors enthusiasts, and is also a thriving college town with UC’s main campus just a short bike ride uphill from downtown, but there is a strange clash of rich and pretentious with eccentrics, dirty hippie types. It’s an intense sort of organic culture. Too judgmental and too “bubbly” to be really a hippie-friendly town… but at the same time, there is definitely a thriving true dirtbag culture there, just maybe a bit outside the main bubble or at the very least on its edges. It was a good town to visit and to drink its beer and eat its food, and to hike and run, but I would certainly not want to live there full-time. That would be exhausting and overwhelming and trying too hard – it would be too much work to live in the bubble. I’ll take to the mountains any day. Not that there’s anything wrong with organic, but the sheer social pressure there was nothing I’d felt before. I was glad to leave.

Fort Collins to the north, another college town, has a much more relaxed and far less pretentious feel. “FoCo,” as Zoe’s roommate Naomi referred to it, “is more… suburban.” Less crunchy, I said. Less organic. Less Boulder. She agreed. There was judgment in her tone, as though less Boulder is less good, less desirable. But it was far easier to exist there. Just outside of town feels like open Wyoming land, all farms and just regular folk as they say. Trucks rather than decked-out Subarus. Lots of cattle. Fences. Open land. The main strip is far less oppressive than Boulder’s Pearl Street. And though the true mountains are farther west, there are still fair foothills for hiking and a large reservoir for boats and a little beach here and there.

That night was the incident, by which I mean Zoe’s breakdown and overdose on her anti-anxiety medication. Benzo addiction is a nasty thing which has been going on for decades, pushed by the psychiatrists and Big Pharm. I won’t go into that here because there are people far more qualified and knowledgeable on the subject than I, I’ll just relate the scene. I had known that she was having a rough day, she had texted me earlier, and now that her friend was with her. We arrived back at the house shortly before ten and Zoe and her friend arrived just a few minutes after us. Zoe bolted straight to the bathroom claiming urgency but then I heard the rattle and huge gulps of many pills being taken – a bottle being emptied, as it turned out. She went downhill fast, from coherent and silly (almost seeming drunk), just a little unsteady, to seeing quadruple and throwing up (which she has a phobia of) and sobbing brokenly on the bathroom tile curled in the fetal position, unable to talk or stand, her breathing slowly getting shallower and slower so we got her into a car with much difficulty and I kept one eye and a hand on her as I drove to the hospital, where she threw up in the parking lot then fell half out of the car basically unconscious in her own vomit. A nurse came with a wheelchair and wheeled her away at midnight, to be put in a mental health institute for a number of weeks before her father would eventually come out to Colorado and move her back home to Michigan. But that’s getting ahead of things. I had never seen anyone overdose on anything, let alone a close and very dear friend. There’s nothing that strikes black fear in your heart than seeing a bloodshot absolutely nonseeing blank stare hazily aimed at your face but you just know that she doesn’t see your face, is in almost no way connected with reality, having heard her mumble a few minutes earlier “I probably won’t die” and knowing that it is a possibility, so cavalierly mentioned. A total human mental breakdown and overdose is one of the most shocking and unpleasant things to witness, especially in a good friend.

So we packed our things and fled the next morning, down to the homely Colorado Springs where I had lived for a number of months the summer before and so I was familiar with it and very comfortable in it. We stayed with our friends’ parents, and cooked for them to ensure goodwill (an unnecessary measure but one I was glad to take), and hiked in the gorgeous crumbly golden front range there and had a few days of actual restful vacation before driving the dreaded drive back to Michigan through all of Nebraska, which is always worse on the way back because while home waits for you, there is also real life to attend to at the end of the road. Although there hadn’t been much escape from reality on this trip what with Zoe’s tribulations.

Names changed.

thoughts on ozo // 1 may 2014

May 2, 2014

Boulder, May first. Stopped into ozo tea on pearl street before going to the bookstore, we wanted something refreshing and energizing since the warm slow sunny afternoon drowse was on and heavy. I had a raspberry rooibos iced tea which was good but these places charge too much for a dollop of tea and some ice cubes. She had a warm drink, steamed almond milk with some sort of cactus nectar tea, light and summery but it was warm and frothy and something I was not in the mood for. My iced tea suited me fine. We decided to sit a while and enjoy the atmosphere and she her drink, but as we sat down and I looked around I realized there was not atmosphere. Maybe faint, but not much of an impression except for the strength of its non-atmosphere. The counter was bustling with activity and the steamers whirring and pots bubbling, and the seats were over half taken, and the guitar man in the front counter sounded good with his coffee-shop-in-boulder sort of songs, but the trouble was the screens and even some earbuds. All absorbed in whatever they were doing and ignoring the other people not looking around no small talk, and even when the guitar man announced that it would be his last song, and this is his name, and this is where he’ll be playing next, and he has cds and you can download his songs on itunes “or whatever” he says trying to sound younger than he is (perhaps late 30s, as a bad rough estimate of age) and like he doesn’t care as much but I can feel how aware he is of the fact that no one seems to be listening to him, some even with those earbuds! disrespect. No recognition of his effort or existence at all. We are sitting just a few feet away from him and I look and make brief eye contact, and he packs up and leaves shortly after we leave I think. No one says anything to him or claps politely and quietly even, we should have though because as we walked away into the bright crowded avenue we talked about how he sounded good, and how no one applauded, and how we should have told him that he sounded good. Now he may leave that place feeling dispirited and thinking that no one appreciated his music when in fact he was the only thing near to contributing to an actual Atmosphere worthy of taking in.

golden gate

December 1, 2013

red bridge
white city
blue bay
– America!

In memoriam of an arachnid

November 24, 2013
tags:

In memoriam of an arachnid
24 November 2013

Hot water streamed over me, scorching and powerful. I ran my hands through my hair, head tilted back, eyes closed. It was to be a long, languid shower, the sort of shower one takes for pleasure. I had been bored, unable to concentrate, so I thought a shower might pass some time. I let myself go in the shower. Tried to empty my mind but the trouble was it was already empty. Like fruitlessly trying to dump a trash bin with nothing in it. Shaking and shaking but nothing coming out. So there I was, alone with the water, just standing eyes open enjoying the sensation when I looked up and there, a yellow spider on the cracked and peeling wall. Ah! a distraction, I thought. Welcome.

I began to watch the spider. It was still rather high and across the shower from me. I took a step to look closer and realized that I did not in fact want to watch this particular spider with interest. Its limbs were too thick and jointed, its body too bulbous and saclike. It was on the wall but swung a little as it crawled tentatively down – still attached to its safety line. Dark pincers waved, searching, in my direction. It stopped moving.

Without thinking I reached out of the curtain and brought a magazine into the shower. An old issue of the New Yorker. Terrifying whimsical illustrations of society on its cover. I rolled it up stepped forward and solidly thwacked the wall. One decisive blow to the head and all the rest. Good! I said, triumphant. I dropped the magazine on the cold tile outside and stepped back under the water. Hot.

But after a moment all too brief, I began to feel that something was not quite right. I glanced back at the wall. The spider still stuck there, not moving, eight too-thick limbs half-curled in the defeat of death. As though trying to protect itself – though how could it have known death was coming? So swift and sudden and for no apparent reason? (As it all too often is) Quite suddenly I was overwhelmed by guilt and empathy for the poor deceased – dead by my hand for no reason other than I did not care for the cut of its body, which was not its choice, and for the fact that it had the gall to be on my wall while I was in the shower trying to clear a disturbingly empty mind. Dead in an instant. Ended. No more arachnid consciousness sharing the shower. But the guilt – !

I tilted my head back and closed my eyes but felt something on my leg and opened them in an instant and it was just the water. I stared at the opposite wall instead. The old white paint, probably filled with lead, was peeling terribly to reveal a garish red layer underneath. I stared at one such red patch and in slow-motion horror saw thick red blood pooling in it and dripping, viscous, down the shower wall. My eyes clamped shut but only saw more of the same. My stomach churned; I wanted to gag. I wanted to throw up. So intense was this urge that I jammed two fingers to the back of my throat, deeper than I thought access would allow, and reached the spot and half-gagged but pulled my fingers back in a knee-jerk reaction. That would not do but the unsettled feeling remained. I had to get out of the shower. I scrubbed vigorously and accidentally tore my hair while shampooing but I was out in a minute and still dripping rushed to my room.

Where I sat naked and wet and stared at the wall and the shadows on the wall and imaged hundreds of yellow spiders clinging to the wall and staring at me with such reproach. My mind had finally emptied and the spiders moved in and strung up their webs in memoriam.

the state of things, november ten 2013

November 11, 2013

(a freewrite)

I am overwhelmed inexplicably by sadness tonight. Perhaps disappointment at perceived lost opportunities, at time wasted, standing still while the whole of the world moves and swirls forward around me, ever onward while I remain rooted, never making progress or bettering or improving or really going anywhere at all, in the world or in my mind. Stagnant. A great fear of mine is to remain stagnant, a lack of discovery or imagination or motion. Movement in any direction in any way is desirable above all things. Car foot train trail rail plane wheel, anything that gets me going, gets me places. Alone or accompanied. But here I am three years later and what have I done? Spent one month really living, one month out of how many in almost twenty one years spent actually experiencing the world and living it and finding things about myself, my historical innate roots and what I like and dislike and what I really want and value and what makes me happy. Happiness is key but elusive, and why is that so? Why should it be so? Why have we made it so? Did it arise or was it shaped? Probably a combination of both but why why why. No one asked for this, probably no one really likes it or want it but most people don’t bother to venture outside their comfortable circle because god knows what they’d find out then, maybe they’d really find something out then maybe they couldn’t deal with what they’d discovered and they’d never be comfortable again. That’s how it used to be and that’s really how it ought to be but everyone gets stuck in this ebb and flow of never really going anywhere just surviving instead of thriving, all because they never step out of that boundary, test the limits and see what they should really be doing. Whose idea was a suit and tie anyway, whose idea the desk chair and commutes and goddamned 1950s families and television and mass media and higher education screw it and corporate success as all success. Well I categorically reject all that but I have to wait to reject it til I’ve made my way through it another year or so maybe less, then I’ll have the one line to put on a resume that will get me a job even if I spend a few years so called screwing around in their eyes, living normally in mine and my friends’, but who knows, maybe I’ll avoid it altogether. Because stagnation is to be feared more than death itself. Death is natural, stillness is not.

snippet

August 27, 2013

she sat in the dark haunted by a thousand memories and none of them were hers

the cardinal directions of travel (8.15.13)

August 17, 2013

GO WEST
sounds good when you’re in the muggy green east or wide flat baking midwest.
it is romance. it is classic.
it is dry and dust and hot sun and red rocks and lizards
and faded hardy shrubs.
and from the WEST you can reach the COAST
the mystical reaching golden land, the edge.
it is fog and rock and ancient giants looming in whispered forests.
it is foam and sea and sand and cloud.
headed in from the COAST you reach the dry hot SOUTHWEST,
full of hot and dry.
it is no water. it is no shade. it is coyotes prowling on sunbleached domes.
and after so much WEST and SOUTH,
EAST – EAST –
begins to sound lush and welcoming and bursting with life.
it is green and lakes and rivers.
it is farms and rolling hills. it is nestled small towns with white churches
peeking out above bush treetops.
and NORTH, distant NORTH,
promises wide deep lakes and deeper forests,
mountains of a different breed westerly and flat lands of a different face easterly,
true expanses across the countrytop.

then there is HOME. sweet soft home, promising
warmth and comfort and ease, whether
NORTH or SOUTH or WEST or EAST.

storm (6.28.13)

June 29, 2013

The day had been hot, high 90s, and colorado-summer-dry. The kind of dry that cracks skin to bleeding and the blood just dries right up, a quick rust spot on crackling skin. I woke from my usual afternoon nap confused – already darkening at 5:30? Odd. A glance out my closed window set reality straight: gathering clouds, not a supernatural sunset, were the cause of preemptive evening. I settled in for an unambitious evening of tv, solo. I cracked a corona and slipped my headphones over a toppling bun.

A few episodes later, I became of a low background noise; removing the headphones, I recognized it as thunder, remarkably consistent and still far-off. I checked the window – still dark, no sign of the sky behind the wall. Headphones back on.

Not too much later I found myself standing at the window watching the world rage outside. Rain, precursor to quarter-sized hail, slammed the tin roof over the porch, amplified. I watched trees’ dark silhouettes thrash and flutter, all panic, in the gusts. The lightning was constant, as was the thunder. Serious thunder, too, not pleasant summer rumbles. These were sucker punches to the lower atmosphere, thick and simmering, blasting the air molecules into a sonic boom to tear through the city and crash up against the mountains. Cracks, too, terrible rips in the seams of the sky that translated directly to your own body, vibrating thoroughly. Shakes. I could just picture fiery meteors blasting out of the broiling sky in an end-all apocalyptic storm.

After some time, I stepped out onto the back stoop, warm cement on bare calloused feet. The air was so much heavier than earlier, carrying a warm moistness unfamiliar to the usual desert air. It smelled all of wet ground and slick rocks. It carried the soundwaves of fire engines wooo-ing through the streets. Downed power lines probably, and hopefully no new fires.

The sky, tinged greyish purple from the sunset which must lay somewhere behind it all and the faint straining city lights below, offered 360 degrees of lightning in all forms. Cloud to cloud, cloud to ground, vague bright flashes like bombs and fireworks, sustained scars of heavenly illumination. Long strikes to be sure, longest I’d seen. Still the thunder rolled on, always.

I wondered what terrible menace must be blowing through the mountains thousands of feet above, to have this as the afterthought to the east.
I watched the world beyond the front range flicker and glow like some great forge, the whipping wind its bellows, the rockies its anvil. And who wields the hammer – ?
I felt the wind pick up and the temperature drop and I was glad I was not in the mountains at that particular moment.

 

As a child, I had always been terrified of the inevitable summer storms common to michigan. The sky would darken, the winds would rise and twirl around in all directions, the leaves would show their telltale lighter sides – I’d feel the mercury falling and slam my windows shut to stare fearfully out at the force of nature outside. I feared trees crashing into my bedroom. I saw tornadoes forming in every cloud. I had an emergency backpack ready to go in case we had to evacuate. Yes, those storms shook me to my eight-year-old core.

Then one day, as the air cooled and the clouds began to build and I prepared to rush into the basement, flashlight in hand and stuffed bunny in the crook of my arm, my father led me firmly to the front porch, to the rail, and instructed me to watch the storm. Reluctantly I stayed. The drops began to fall and the first rumbles reached our ears. The clouds grew dark grey and the trees began their demonic twisting dance and the rain began to splatter my toes and legs and arms but I stayed. The clouds weren’t quite so dark from out there, where you could see the whole sky and watch everything build up in its crescendo, and the wind wasn’t so threatening when you felt it on your own skin. The trees exaggerated its intensity. The wind-chime bell on the top rail rang out the storm’s progress and narrated its eventual decrescendo. The rain faded to fat drips and the air was slow and sweet and moist as it heated back up, steam rising from the blacktop driveways as the sun peeked back out and almost always gave us a pale rainbow to the east.

 

There was still lightning, but far less frequent and I hadn’t heard but faint grumblings for some time. The trees were still and their leaves and the roofs were dripping slowly, content. The moths were back out, fluttering around the porch light. The sun had set for sure. I turned and quit the stoop, back in to the air conditioning where it didn’t smell of rain. Show’s over for tonight.