Monday, April 06, 2009

That Family from Guttenberg, Living in fear in the Suburbs

I fear. I’m really good at it too. Now, I don’t know if it’s genetic or learned, but I do know my family feared before I came on the scene. Today, as I trained for my latest temp assignment I was reminded of my grandmother’s fear of lightning and how she scared the shit out of me as a kid.

This morning I sat at the reception desk of some financial company with a permanent executive assistant who was showing me the ropes. In the middle of my learning to transfer calls the woman hops from the desk and exclaims, “Did you see that flash of light? Was that lightning? I love lightning I’m a lightning nut.” Then she proceeded to usher me to the window to see if we could get an up close view of another strike. This was not how I was raised.

20 something years ago, I found myself a child and staying at my grandparents’ house. It was just me and Nana. I don’t know where my grandfather was; perhaps he was out gambling or something. All of a sudden a storm crashed through the night. Lightning, thunder, and torrential rains blew in. As a child I felt somewhat afraid, but not nearly as afraid I was I was going to feel. In times like these, where danger and chaos seem to be present children usually look to the adult in the room for reassurance. This evening was no different. And I was reassured. I was reassured that I was going to die that night.

My grandmother hurried us both to the upstairs hallway. She then closed the three bedroom doors and one bathroom door that surrounded the rectangular landing at the top of the carpeted stairs. This way we couldn’t see the lightning. Then she curled up in a fetal position and had me do the same. There we were a 6 year old and 60 year old hiding from the sight of lightning. Unfortunately, we could not hide from the sound of the thunder. Every time it rumbled Nana made a vocal start. Not a scream as much as a “OOoo. Ahhh.” A similar noise to the one she made when being driven in the car and another car would appear on the road. We were to die that night.

The storm passed on through and somehow not one bolt of lightning struck through the house. And the house remained intact despite the sonic thunder. We lived. I don’t know how. But I have forever taken with me that night the ability to be scared shitless by things that probably won’t hurt me.

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