Not being sad.
Being too young to feel this old.
Within and without.
Not seeing the Grand Canyon.
Discounting other’s work.
Death without contentment.
I depend on the clear sky to turn rough and ugly and war torn and fatal. I crave for neon flashes of lightening to enter my room with me at the tender age of seven. I yearn for the sound of heavy droplets erupting on the pavement like the atom bomb in an otherwise quaint suburban town. Then these droplets, no combatants, raid the ground in a stream of unrelenting desperation to win the battle. Warriors charge to foreign territory as the sky turns ever more shaky and dotted with the blackest black, the bluest blue, and the brightest gray in an epic, destructively beautiful chaos. Wind howls like the groan of a wounded soldier in the midst of battle, kneeling in the bloody, mud sodden ground. Suddenly, the trees shake and sound of the rustling of leaves is dwarfed by a sonic boom of thunder followed by another and another.
I am shivering in my twin sized bed hoping to God that the war of the worlds brewing outside my window would end. Vivid imagery of lightening striking my being begins to overtake me. Even as a child, I was hyperaware of the amount of people that perished in natural disasters. Convinced that every storm was tornado, that every rain was a flood, and that every warning from the trusty National Weather Service was imminent peril, my blood pressure reached the levels of a morbidly obese man.
Now the war of the worlds increased in magnitude. Fewer seconds existed between the flashes of lightening and the sonic thunder booms. The crashes of the soldiers hitting the ground grew fiercer.
In that very moment, I did the bravest thing I have ever done.
With my fingers firmly plugged into my ears, as if this pathetic action would save me from the storm, I crawled from underneath my Hello Kitty themed comforter, removed the matching pillow from its place above my head, and took a cautious step toward the bed adjacent to mine. A beautiful girl, two years my senior, lay peacefully curled into a ball. Without hesitation, I shook her. Almost immediately, she emerged. Taking a quick glance at my terror stricken expression, she grew soft. Without questions or explanations, she made a space for me in her bed.
She lay still, clutching my body, the one person in the world she both shares DNA with and loves most, as if I was a fragile doll that would shatter into a million pieces in a second. I lay frantically, clutching her shirt with my own set of soldiers making its way down my cheeks. Every moment felt like a lifetime, every tear an admission of my own vulnerability.
A courage existed in me at seven that has not made itself apparent in recent years. I allowed myself to submit to my fear in a way in which allowed me to further overcome it. I allowed myself to feel fear, and in that very moment, I experienced the purest bravery. Brave enough to admit that I hated thunder, brave enough to permit myself to sob into the shirt of another, brave enough to look into the eyes of someone and beg for acceptance.
Once both sides have failed, the strikes of lightening diminishes, and the lightest gray clears into this efflorescent pale pink and fiery blood orange and purple, the sun deceives us once more and appears the horizon. As lift myself to wipe away the very last of the soldiers that stain my cheek, I know that I am real. And I wish I was still afraid of thunderstorms so I can feel real again.