“Look! You are a tropical storm!” That’s the random text I received from my daughter Kristen.
I’ve been called a lot of things over the years—bossy, stubborn, generous—but never, as in ever, has anyone referred to me as a tropical storm. I suppose that, when I’m in a foul mood, I exhibit a few stormy traits.
My family members have witnessed the dark cloud that veils my face and the flash of anger in my eyes. They’ve heard thunder rise in my voice. I’m not proud of those moments, but at least I admit the truth.
I said to myself, “Self, what did you do to Kristen” and in a “let there be light” moment, proof that I am a natural disaster dropped into the text thread. A photo of a map showed a circular red symbol swirling round and round in the eastern Pacific – Tropical Storm Genevieve.
Funny thing, this was my second encounter in less than 10 days with a natural disaster. Two weeks before, I just happened to be visiting my friend Toni when an earthquake made Charlotte, NC tremble.
I’ve been privy to a few natural disasters. I’ve helped board up windows for one hurricane, and I’ve evacuated South Carolina for a couple of others.
I also had close encounters with two tornados. As a middle schooler in Kentucky, I took cover in the basement with my brothers when fierce winds howled like a train whistle. The twister didn’t hit our home, but it carved a canyon-sized hole in a giant slide and tossed go-carts off the track at the state park nearby.
My second tornado scare happened in Alabama. I was newly married, but my adult status did nothing to make me less afraid. That funnel cloud made landfall three miles from where Gary and I lived and flattened a neighborhood of mobile homes.
Warnings precede hurricanes and tornados. But I’ve yet to hear weather beeps followed by the words, “Earthquake alert.”
My bedroom at Toni’s is upstairs, situated above her garage. I call it “mine” because I visit often enough to claim squatter’s rights. If you need more validation, there’s a toothbrush labeled “Tropical Storm Genevieve” in the second drawer of the vanity in the adjacent bathroom.
Ok. It says “GENNY” but that could change.
I did a slow wake at Toni’s that Sunday morning and relaxed on the edge of the bed. As I checked the weather forecast on my phone, I heard Carole King sing, “I feel the earth move under my feet….”
Ok. Carole did not sing, but I did feel the earth move under my feet. The bed quivered.
It’s amazing how many thoughts fly in and out of a person’s mind in a matter of seconds. Thought number one: “Did Toni open the garage door? Does she know the bedroom shakes like this when the garage door opens?”
Thought number two came as I watched my necklace and rings shimmy on the dresser top: “Could this be an earthquake?”
The window blinds rattled.
Thought number three: “Is God ending it all right here and now?”
That’s when I jumped from the bed, lifted the blind, and looked to the street to check for cracks in the pavement below. Go ahead and laugh. But how many earthquakes have rattled your rump, bumped your bling, and bobbled your blinds?
Later, we discovered the quake measured 5.1 on the Richter scale. I’m not schooled on Richter’s scale, but I am certain 5.1 means “tremors strong enough to feel them.”
A second text chimed in informing me that my status had been upgraded: “You turned into a hurricane!” my daughter said.
Her dad could have told her that. He knows all about Hurricane Genevieve.
writer, blogger, columnist