Er… not really. But from 3 am this morning, the sirens were blaring in my head.
Jon knows I’m generally terrified of storms. While I was in grad school, my colleague told me that her father had seen a telephone pole go through an air-borne cow during an Oklahoma tornado. I never forgot the image.
So Jon bought a tornado safe to keep me safe.
“This is how it works,” he’d said, weeks ago, when he gave me the tour. “It just slams shut.” We stood inside the darkness for a few moments before he opened the door again.
“No deadbolt?” I asked. “But… but what if the wind whips around and twists that wheel thing open and sucks me out?”
He burst out laughing. “If the tornado twists that wheel open and sucks you out of a tornado safe, it was your goddamn time to go.”
He bolted it to the floor of the hangar (we live in an airplane hangar). The gray cave looked spare and empty, and when faced with the real prospect of spending hours in the thing in lieu of the world blowing away outside, I decided to make it a little homey. So I brought down the (hideous) floor rug from the living room. It’s brown polyester with geometric shapes. Only a man in a constant hurry could pick something like that out and stick it in his living room.
(Conveniently, that freed up floorspace in our house for a newer, prettier rug. Our living room now sports a pale blue and cream damask rug. But I digress.)
I’m trying to be funny, but the cute dog on the hideous rug in the tornado shelter downstairs is still stuck in tornado country, and it’s a real threat. Three years ago, 158 died in the EF5 that shredded Joplin. And most recently, the one in Moore, Oklahoma.
But oddly, hysterical newscasters and folks that don’t live here seem to be the only ones concerned with this stuff.
A few weeks ago when the sirens went off, Jon asked his mother, 83, if she was worried about the tornados. “Jon,” she said, “I haven’t been worried about a tornado since 1973.”
The woman is tough, as are most people from these parts. While I was running errands today, the radio kept interrupting to announce the threat of quarter-sized hail and remind everyone that we’re on a tornado watch until 10 pm tonight. But still, people shopped for bedding and bought cornish game hens. Despite the pending end of the world, life always goes on, mundane.
And it was strangely beautiful to drive under the storm, the sky peppered with shadow, shouldered and conflicted. Pillow fights. It felt like being under the surface of the ocean.
But being beautiful is not enough, and the only good thing I actually appreciated about today’s tornado watch was that the apocalyptic rain meant I didn’t have to spend the entire day running manual irrigation lines up and down the field. It meant I could wear white pants and shop for essential non-essentials (new swimsuit, Crest whitestrips, new scale). It meant having time to get a dress altered for next week’s wedding, to take Pax to the groomer, to spend the long evening hours making portabella spinach mushroom enchiladas and corn and avocado salad and drink red wine.
And after it all, the sun, the sun.