There was a bit of a weather scare this morning, with strong wings and tornado sirens and whatnot, though all we really ended up getting was a short rain storm. Even so, I spent about forty minutes in a basement jam-packed full of panicky undergrads. I know I can't be the only person who was raised to love storms. I just happened to be the only storm lover trapped in that particular basement.
My father is an avid storm watcher. At the first rumble of thunder he is outside on the porch in his rocking chair (yes, rocking runs in the family). My mother is usually not far behind, though I'm not sure that she actually likes storms, she just likes my father. I don't know at what age I joined them, but I know that I was never afraid of thunder or lightning like I hear many children can be. In fact, my mother used to read me a book about a grandmother and granddaughter that ran around outside while a storm approached collecting ingredients for something called thunder cake. She'll still bring this up if a storm gets particularly bad. "Too bad we didn't make some thunder cake!" But we never actually made any, even though there was a recipe on the back of the book. My mother was a cake tease.
Aside from the occasional quip like that, though, our storm watching is spent in silence. Nature is doing all the raging for us, so all we have to do is sit in our self-made bubble of calm and observe. It's not as if anyone in my family unit does much raging anyway. If you ever hear any of us start shouting, it's because all other options have already been exhausted and there truly is no hope left. We are for the most part a quiet and lighthearted group. Unless, of course, you get us laughing. We all have absurdly loud laughs.
The worst storm I ever saw was when I was around ten during a family vacation in North Carolina. We had rented a beach house for the week. The house was on stilts so you could park underneath, and also to protect it in the event that ocean came in too far. When the storm hit, the wind was strong enough to make the whole structure sway, though not in a scary way. Just enough so that you could feel it. Rain was falling so hard and fast that you couldn't see two feet past the windows, except when the lightening flashed so bright it hurt your eyes. The thunder reverberated in my chest as I sat at the foot of my grandparent's bed staring out the glass sliding doors that led to their deck.
Along with my grandparents and myself, my parents, brother, aunt, and a couple cousins were all in the house. Within an hour of the storm's hitting, all of us slowly gathered in my grandparent's room, which had the best view of what was going on. No one said much of anything the whole time, we just watched the beach fall apart. This is honestly one of the best memories I have. It has all the best people in my family all alive and in one place and getting along.
For me, I guess storms give me that "the world is amazing" feeling that makes people go hiking or watch the Discovery Channel. When my parents lived in Hawaii, decades before I was even a blip on the radar screen, my father used to wake up my mother at four or five-something so they could watch the sun rise. Once it had come up, he would drive a little farther down the island so they could watch it again. I was raised by this person, so it only figures that I would share his amazement with the natural world.
But for me, storms also remind me of how meaningful silence can be. Words are hard. I often find it difficult to know what to say to people, or how to articulate myself properly in the rare event I think of something I really want to say. Nothing means more to me than a good amicable silence, where I know that I'm wanted, and I don't have to try and justify my presense with some sort of small talk I can barely navigate. Conversations have their place, of course. I really do like talking to people once I get to know them well enough to leave behind the awkward introductory subjects. However, I like not talking, too.
I can't really think of a way to end this post. So... the end?