they pay to kiss your feet

since there's no one else around, we let our hair grow long and forget all we used to know. then our skin gets thicker from living out in the snow.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Laughing at myself

It’s tornado season in Kansas and I don’t have a basement. For most people, this wouldn’t be a big deal. An inconvenience, maybe, but not something that they would worry about. Constantly. That is absolutely not the case here.

Let’s just say that I’ve been known to go into a complete stranger’s apartment during a tornado warning, climb into their bathtub and place their couch cushions between my body and the ceiling. It only happened once, but it still happened. And though it’s something I’m ashamed of, and it’s the brunt of the joke that was my life in college and my friends still bring it up, I’m getting better. Stronger, you could say. Like yesterday, during a tornado watch, I actually ventured out in my car, several miles from my home, to get a haircut. This task, this driving beneath wall clouds and lightening, might seem simple. But for me, it’s not. And yesterday was groundbreaking.
I’m not sure where my fear of tornadoes stems from. I’m not scared of thunder or lightening or rain or wind. But when the clouds form a funnel and become bent on destroying anything in their path, the fear sets in. And when it sets in, it settles deep. There is a pit in my stomach that is tornado-shaped. And until the tornado watch or warning is over and the all-clear has been given, I feel weak and dizzy and vulnerable. And it doesn’t help that I don’t even have an interior room to hide in. There is no acceptable tornado-type shelter in my smallish cottage of a house.

When I was a little girl, my mom would race to my bedroom at the first sound of the tornado sirens. She would yank me out of bed and drag me to our old, unfinished basement — a basement I was terrified of in general. I was sure there were strangers down there and mice and maybe even a lion. I hated it. And during tornado warnings, I hated it even more. I would walk around in circles, my bare feet getting dusty from the floor while we listened to the voice in the radio report on the funnel clouds and where they were touching down and how much damage was being done. I was sure I wasn’t safe in my basement, which was only partially underground. And my feet were cold from the concrete floor and I was tired and wanted my pillow. It wasn’t pretty.

The feeling in my stomach back then is the same feeling I get today when the sirens sound. But, now, it’s up to me to seek shelter. My mom isn’t going to wake me up and drag me to the basement. I just want to make sure I’m prepared. So, for my birthday, I would like a weather radio, please and a basement. Thanks.


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