There are many things about me that are just plain weird. For instance, I can never, ever sleep on the left side of the bed. My one eyebrow has a high-peaked arch giving me a slight look of constant bewilderment. I love tomato as a sauce in foods, but I cannot eat the fruit in its natural state. I hate watching horror films, but as soon as someone starts playing one, I can never look away. Oh, and I love thunderstorms.
Ever since I was a kid, I always felt that rush of adrenaline every time we'd be playing outside and, suddenly, on the horizon, you'd see nothing but pitch black clouds and the bombing canon fire of far-off thunder. Seeing the sky light up as lightning danced across the sky never ceased to amaze. One time, I was actually in a small sailboat when this freak storm came out of nowhere. We were close to the harbor so we managed to pull in just in time before the storm fully let loose, but for a while, it was like I was on one of the craziest roller coasters of my life, pitching and rolling as the gigantic waves knocked us about, yet not once did I ever feel afraid. On the contrary, I'd actually never felt more alive.
I'm convinced that, in one of my past lives, I was one of those crazy storm chasers you see on National Geographic who run towards twisters or hurricanes. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one - for a time period, my mother refused to let me watch the movie "Twister" until I was thirteen, on the grounds that it was "too scary". But we both know that she just didn't want this giving me any ideas for a future career as an adrenaline junkie. #CareerGoals
One summer weekend, I was visiting my grandparents who lived on a house down off of the Wye River, on of the off-shoots that flows into the Chesapeake Bay. I was out diving off the pier into the river when, suddenly. my grandmother started ringing the old rusty bell that hung just inside the screened-in porch, yelling for everyone to drop what they were doing and get inside the house now. Turning back to look behind the house, I was faced with one of the darkest skies, with lightning flashing every few minutes. It was like that monstrous storm that tore apart Destiny Island in the video game "Kingdom Hearts" (and if you haven't played that game yet, stop reading and do so - it's fantastic!).
Now when you're by another body of water like a river or a lake, and it's during the summer - that basically provides all the ingredients to ensure that the intensity of any given storm gets ratcheted far beyond normal standards. And this thunderstorm was no exception. By the time we were all inside, it was raining so hard you could barely see a couple of inches beyond the windows. And every time thunder exploded overhead, it felt like rocket ships were constantly blasting off the roof of the house, causing the whole foundation to shake, rattle and roll.
So everyone is panic stricken about the storm - especially my grandmother who is petrified, zooming in and out of rooms, making sure that water isn't seeping into any of the rooms since the roof had just been renovated. Everyone is on edge, except for two people - me and my grandfather. Now Pop is like a lot of people you've heard about from the older generations - grew up in a dirt poor Irish family in a neighborhood filled with Italians in Everett Mass, survived the Great Depression, survived WII, and served on the USS Empire Javelin which was sunk by Nazi U-Boats. When the missiles struck, Pop was sleeping on the top bunk of a bed that was welded into the floor. The torpedoes hit with such force that the bolts ripped out of the floor, sending his head straight through the metal ceiling and flinging him out of bed. Blindly stumbling out of the room, his faced painted with blood, Pop managed to make it out before the emergency doors slammed shut, blocking off the flooding rooms and ceiling his roommate inside. After surviving in France, he came back to the states where he started his own business from the ground up. Long story short - nothing fazed this man. And till the day he died, he still had a golf ball-sized bruise where his forehead met metal.
As Mother Nature throws her massive temper tantrum outside, my grandfather calmly gets up, walks over to the nearby bar where he proceeds to poor two classes of whiskey. He then walks back over with the drinks, sits down in his favorite leather-back chair, worn from time, and hands me the other drink
"George, what in God's name are you doing! The boy is only 13!" comes the squawked exclamation from my Nana.
"Mary, if we're all gonna die tonight, the boy has to at least go out knowing why the Lord invented whiskey to keep the Irish from ruling the world," was Pop's calm reply. So of course I tasted it, and of course I ended up nearly turning blue in the face from choking to death - talk about strong stuff.
But my grandfather didn't laugh or poke fun. Instead, he simply said, "Now you're a man," and shot me a Cheshire cat grin.
The rest of that night passed by in a blur as the two of us talked about everything and nothing. I remember laughing to tears as he told the story of how a fierce lightning storm blew through his neighborhood, and a lightning bolt hit the top of a nearby flagpole. It sent the metal round holder on top of the flag, roughly the size of a bowling ball, flying through the air and straight through the kitchen window of his house, nearly decapitating my great-grandmother. He re-enacted some of her choice Irish swears during the incident, all of which were colorful and sent me rolling on the floor in fits of giggles. And sure enough, before I even realized it, it was one o'clock in the morning. The storm had passed, and our house was still standing.
So why am I telling you this? What was the clarification in the storm? What was the lesson here to share with you all? Well, you're just gonna have to figure that out yourself. See, in today's blogging world everyone is so eager and determined to beat us over the head with their message, how they perceive the world, how they have the answers to everything. So instead of following the group, I'm going to let you take the reins on this one. Look between the lines, read the subtext. And maybe you'll find some clarification for yourself. Who says you can't be your own stormchaser?