Counting to Ten

2014-04-07 18.39.14Do you remember when the crash of thunder made your eyes widen and your heart race? When the hint of lightning pushed you into countdown mode? When dark, billowing clouds prepared you for angel bowling, god pissing and a whole host of euphemisms used to allay the dark paranoia in the back alleys of your cerebellum that said this is IT?! No more! A sweeping doom is coming for me!

Then the storm would break. For a few minutes, you could imagine your last few minutes on earth during Ragnarok. The wind sheered safety away with its banshee howls. The would house creak, rocking with the storm’s intensity. The rain’s deluge beat a wall of fury into your small world, screaming bloody devastation. And that detonative crack! that hit almost before the sky blinked a blinding yellow-white. You knew those million volt bolts were the real killers, but the annihilation inherent in that crash–like  gods rending the sky in half. Somehow you knew (despite what they said in school) that thunder didn’t follow from lightning. It was the noise the innards of the universe made when you glimpsed them during that brief rip in reality, revealed in that supra-natural flicker. It made no difference who made it, nor who put it back together, you were just glad the world was restored.

Sometimes, though, it faked you out. The rain would slow its furious erosion, becoming trickles, then drips from the overhanging branches and awnings. Thunder rolled away on the wind towards some other neighborhood. Your numbers didn’t lie. One one thousand. Two one thousand…the fury was moving away. Safety at last. Now, flashes in a neighbors TV set were more ominous.

But then…the tapping on the roof intensified and ka-THOOM! Before you knew it came a sucker-punch! Mother nature was a tease. Safety was a ruse. The terror had not abated. Another onslaught of sound, fury, another maritime blackout was yours to endure. This time, it seemed interminable, like you would die before the howl would succeed. But just when you were ready for the end of days again, the rain would taper off. The aggression and power would filter into the distance off again. But you were no fool –once maybe, but never twice. Oh no.

This time, the game was over. The clouds would whisper off, riding the mischievous jet stream, the mass transit system of the sky. Golden beams would prod through the billowing gray, sometimes along with the vibrant arch of a rainbow or the crowning halo of Jacob’s Ladder. The chaos had departed, and for some reason you were sad. I certainly was. Those spring storms were such a thrill, despite their power and fury.

I’ll always love the ever-insouciant thunderstorm, but I’ll never quite reclaim that feeling of wonder. That sense of portending doom. At least I have my memories, and the hope that, for most people, the doom was only in their minds.

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