“A man who owned his own private tornado.” ~ Stephen King (11/22/63)

So, our local tornado siren is going off RIGHT NOW and I’ve been instructed by Alexa to go to my basement. Instead, I decided to open my front door and watch the sky while typing this on my couch with my camera handy. I’ve always been a rebel.

Now, I know what type of damage a tornado can havoc and I’m not dismissing it’s severity…after all, I’ve experienced such weather 3 times and each was so scary! But I’m also going to come clean that getting a pic of the ole funnel that will be shown on our local news station that 23 people watch would be worth the danger. 🙄

I’m sure these books provided ample protection.

Anyhoot, the first time in my tornadic activity history was when Terri and I were in grade school. I was in 2nd grade and Terri, who is my OLDER sister, was in the 5th. The sirens went off and we had to get in the hallways and crouch down with our arms over our heads next to wooden benches that were neither attached to the floor or heavy. But, I knew I’d be safe: I weighed 50 pounds and my arms were the size of chopsticks. The tornado touched down some distance from the school and once the sky was clear again, we were dismissed. Terri and I walked home where ma was vacuuming. We said: “Mom…there was a tornado!” And ma said: “There was? I’m just cleaning house.” Good thing that’s what she was doing…after all, if it had gone up like Dorothy’s, at least the toilet would be shiny. 🙄

My favorite part of Girl Scouts!

The second time was when I was in Girl Scout camp and ma was one of the parents to go with my troop for an overnight camp out. Neither ma or I liked camping since we had to use tents, sleeping bags, latrines, and a fire pit to cook over all while dealing with bugs and other forms of wildlife. Needless to say, we were psyched for this experience. We were sleeping in our tents when the sirens went off, and the only ‘safe’ place was the freaking latrine where my troop squeezed together in order to fit in it while trying to force the door closed. Ma was crying…I was crying…the leaders were crying…and my fellow troop members were crying. In the latrine. That smelled. While the wind whipped around it and we could hear branches toppling down on top of it. Yes, we survived, and yes, we swore to each other that we would never ever ever ever go camping again. 😳

The 3rd time was when I was at the Denver airport. My friend and I presented at a conference in Park City, Utah…a BEAUTIFUL place where I want to go back too…and we had a layover in Denver. If you haven’t had the pleasure of ever being there, the Denver airport is a cluster-fuck and the 3rd busiest airport in the world. It’s humongous with signs that you need a degree in rocket science to understand, and when the announcement came over the speakers saying a tornado was ON the runway, everyone in the airport ran to the stairwells. Let me repeat that so you can now picture this even more dramatically: EVERYONE IN THE DENVER AIRPORT RAN TOWARDS THE STAIRWELLS AT THE SAME TIME.

My friend and I made our way to one and we were scared…not just of the tornado but because we were scared of being crushed in the stampede. But once in the stairwell, it was kind of nice because everyone started talking and honestly, being in that melee was sort of worth it since we met some interesting people. Go figure.

Then, in 1996 when O, his dad and I lived in Kansas, a tornado touched down in ma’s neighborhood and caused extensive damage. Her house had some siding come off, etc. but she was a street away from the major hit. She was actually vacationing with her ex (I’m not going to cuss…I’m going to restrain myself…) in Belize and happened to be watching CNN where they (that fucking bastard…there…I had to say it…).saw their neighborhood and a shot of their house on the national news…ma said it was surreal.

O and I had already been booked on a flight to visit ma and we arrived just days after this wreckage. I tucked him in his stroller and we wheeled around the area; it was the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen. Truly. To see the houses that I grew up around…had sleep overs in…had played in…completely razed was just indescribable. These were nice houses and our neighborhood prided itself on keeping the area tidy. I simply couldn’t imagine the devastation of losing not only your home but practically everything in it. People were climbing through the rubble trying to salvage as many personal items as they could with news cameras shoved in their faces, and I have never cried so hard. Side note: Hillary Clinton visited the area (Bill was president – “I did not have sex with that woman”) because it was so awful, and it’s still the worst tornado ever seen in Illinois. Actually, there were 2 tornados over a 2 day period and so much more damage to other homes and businesses throughout the city. Overall, there were 74 injuries, one fatality, and the damage estimates were in excess of $100 million. I’ll never forget that sight.

So, am I respectful of the weather? You betcha. Whether it’s blistering heat…white-out blizzards…hurricanes…lightening strikes…we are truly at the mercy of the skies and rich or poor, we all live under the same heavens. Once when O was just a little guy, the tornado sirens sounded yet again and his dad and I rushed him down to the well under the stairs. I put O under me and covered him with my ample bod (I was still losing the baby weight…he was around 7 😐) and then B laid over me. We were in the middle of the country and the funnel was just a few acres away. It passed without ever touching down and as we all got up, I was crying…just the thought of losing my family was too much to bear. O hugged me (back then, he still loved hugging on his mama 🙄) and said this: “Sometimes God just does this to show who’s boss.” Hmmm…I think God shows us his ‘bossiness’ in a lot of ways but O had an excellent point. Sometimes we do need to be reminded that there are a lot of things out there so much bigger than we are.

Love you ma. Love you more.

Kristi xoxo

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