It’s that time again! Kristi and I are co-hosting this month’s Storyteller Link-up today! Would you like to join us? What’s a story you’d tell me if we were to sit on the side of the pool together this summer?
Different types of stories might move each of us – for me, noticing funny things as they happen makes the world seem alive and sparkly. For you it may be more serious, more artistic, maybe even more melancholy. That’s okay. Telling stories helps us – it helps us process and understand and mourn and celebrate, and it helps us understand who we are and how we fit in to something bigger. So I want us to tell stories.
This year, my characters, conflict and climax have revolved around adjusting to a new and different culture. I hesitate to say “different culture”, because it’s not like we up and moved to Bangladesh. The adjustments are subtle, but there are still many days when this new town feels like breaking in a new pair of Chacos. You know your podiatrist recommended them and that they will be THE perfect comfy cozy shoe for your grandma feet… once they are broken in! Yes, well that’s Oxford for me.
Speaking of the podiatrist.
Can we talk about the weather for a second?
Mississippi, tornado-filled weather to be exact… What on earth? I thought this kind of weather was reserved for Dorothy and Toto!
Coming from the girl whose “country roads” take her home to a certain “mountain Momma”, and who never had to put into the practice the “hide-under-your-desk tornado drill” you practice in elementary school…
In April, we left our Cru Staff Conference in Florida knowing the weather would be dicey, but also knowing we couldn’t stay at our hotel in Florida because of significant flooding. So we hit the road and gunned it through a few of the red smears on the radar. We thought we had made it all the way through when we began seeing police sitting in the middle of the interstate warning people not to continue traveling. The sky turned bright green and we made the fastest U-turn you’ve ever seen and raced it back down the interstate. To what, I am not sure. There was nothing other than a used camper sales lot for several exits.
The best option we had was an overpass we could see about 100 yards up ahead. As soon as we approached the overpass we saw 15-20 people abandoning their cars and running up the side of the hill to crouch down under the cement pillars. Joel and I looked at each other, slung the doors open, yanked a child a piece out of their child seat and ran through the muck up to the huddle of folks who were hollering for everyone to take cover.
(Does anyone else out there think thoughts like, “If the tornado gets us, I’ll take a photo so they will know who we were…I’m so weird. Can’t even handle my baby boys brown eyes in this one.)
We tried to play it cool for the sake of the kids but were soaking wet, covered in bird poop (who knew birds like underpasses? They like them a.lot.) and on pins and needles waiting to see if the storm would pass over. Praise the Lord it did only moments later. We were so grateful. Hundreds of people’s homes were damaged and many were injured and killed. We still ache and pray for these families.
With that said, you would think I would have learned…but a couple weeks ago, I headed to Kroger to grab a few things for dinner. As I pushed my buggy out to the car, I received a text from the National Weather Service saying there was a “tornado warning” and to “seek shelter immediately”. I rolled my eyes and thought to myself, “No rain, no problem. Mississippi is so dramatic.”
However, I neglected to look up and around at the sky. It was when I got in my car that the sirens started going off and they continued ringing for the next 30 minutes as I hugged the kids and unloaded groceries. Joel was glued to the television (being raised by the disaster relief coordinator for the core of engineers, he is a wee bit more cautious about the weather) and started hollering for us to go get in the already opened and prepped storm shelter. I gathered some library books and snacks (during which he shouted, “there’s no point in having a storm shelter if your children watch you get swept away while sorting the snack cabinet, woman!!”) I laughed and sauntered down to the *very humid* in-ground shelter in the garage and started reading to the kids. Joel checked Twitter to find that while I had been rolling my eyes at Kroger THIS was above me…Like the exact minute that I was there…
We waited it out in the storm shelter for about an hour. (An hour is a very long time in an enclosed space with an ADHD boy and a tooting 4 year old girl) And I came to terms with the fact that what I consider “drama” is in fact my new norm and tornadoes are now a new part of our culture as a family.
So thank you for audiencing my boring talk about the weather, because I feel like it’s a touch crazy down here in the deep South! And regardless of the fact that around here they make fish tacos out of catfish, “snow” is a light dusting that’s gone by noon, and your Greek affiliation is determined in utero, I am loving learning to say “there’s no place like home.”