Monday, March 15, 2010
Over my lifetime, I have had dream after dream of seeing a tornado coming at me. Sometimes multiple tornadoes. And you know how dreams are. You can't run, you can't scream. You just stand there.
In 1999, I experienced my first tornado. To make a long story short, I was awake when the tornado sirens went off at 5AM. Once Big E, who was 1 y/o. and I were in the basement, the TV guy came on and said if you live in "X or XX, take cover immediately!" We lived in XX. When I got from the main part of the basement to the bottom of the basement stairs, I heard that train sound you hear about, getting louder and louder. All of our lights went out and the train sound started fading. I was just standing there. I yelled upstais to my husband, "Did you hear that?" Of course, he had. I asked him what he was doing. I shit you not, he said, "I was upstairs looking out the bathroom window." People, it was 5:00 in the morning, it was dark, and our backyard was almost a forest of 30 foot and higher trees. He wouldn't have seen anything until that tornado uprooted a tree and shot it through our house. He swears he would have had time to get from the second floor to the basement. Later that day, I discovered every other husband in the neighborhood was doing something similar - looking out windows, standing on back porches. Crazy men folk. Minus the power outages and some trees being down, our neighborhood was undamaged. Unfortunately, four people died that day.
Several years later, we moved to Kansas. Oh dear. One of the first things I asked our real estate agent was how many tornadoes she had seen in her life. For her, only one. That sounded like pretty good odds to me. We lived three years in Kansas without having a tornado. We did have bad storms, straight line winds, lightning strike our backyard (which honestly, was as scary as any tornado!) and lots of warnings, but no actual tornadoes.
Last summer, we hooked up with our Kansas friends in St. Louis. I shit you not (yes, I am using that phrase again) when I tell you that, on our way home from the St. Louis Zoo to our hotel, we got caught in a horrible storm. When we finally made it to the top of our exit ramp for our hotel, right in front of us was a tornado. I just sat there. I wasn't even really scared. I had a van full of kids, only three belonging to me, and all I said was, "Do you guys see that debris twirling around?" Finally, my friends whom I was following, who apparently were as stunned as I was, drove off quickly in what we hoped would be away from where the tornado was heading. Thankfully, she was right, but we were being pounded with lightning. It was thrilling. When we finally came to a stop, they called me and said, "Do you know where we are?" All I could say was, "Hell NO! I was too busy watching that swirling cloud of debris to pay attention to where we were going!" The tornado had hit the business complex where our hotels were. Thankfully, our hotels were only out of power and not damaged. I was able to move rooms to get one with electricity but at least one of us had to move hotels.
Since living back in Ohio, we have huddled in our basement a couple of times. We live in the corner of three counties, so we get to hear all three county sirens, which is kind of cool. Thankfully, nothing serious and no tornado touchdowns near our house, though there have been a few funnel clouds.
So you're probably wondering where the hell I am going with this story. I didn't really mean this to be a "Jo's Tornado History Lesson." It is now tornado season here. Tornadoes are already happening in the middle and southern parts of the country. And my tornado dreams are back. However, they are different than they used to be. In my dreams now, though I am a little scared, I stand there and watch them. They usually end up coming close and then I either wake up or they go in the other direction. Maybe I have finally conquered my crazy, irrational fear of tornadoes!