A 20-minute free-writing exercise.
I’m not entirely comfortable publishing this one. If not for the twist, I’d have left it private.
I’m not sure whether to be embarrassed, angry or something else entirely. I meditated for a few heartbeats. Deep breaths. Only the sound of the air moving through my in my nose and out my mouth and the white noise of the laptop fan. I empty my thoughts and clear my mind and I’m left with only one topic:
That fucking tornado.
It’s been about a year from the day I spent threading my car through the destruction, unwilling to stop at the checkpoints as they were going up. I said fuck the tornado then too: I was going home, police and national guard be damned. A year and twenty-two days since I saw the a neighborhood turned green, every surface coated in pulped vegetation and insulation. I drove through the neighborhood, tires sliding in the muck. I tore the front grill off my car driving over a tree. There was some guy, dirty face under the brim of a cheap blue and white mesh-back. He pulled a cigarette from his mouth and hurled me, cherry exploding in a shower of sparks as it bounced off my windshield. His arms flailed, mouth making shapes I knew were shouts. Anger, loss. I still have no idea why.
It’s been one year, twenty-two days, one hour and forty-two minutes since I pulled up in the driveway and saw my wife and daughter alive. They weathered the storm together in a closet. I didn’t notice until hours later that the houses at the end of the street were gone. Piles of splintered lumber, brick and memories 50 maybe 60 feet away from where our house still stood. Beaten, covered in debris, full of holes, but standing.
It’s been long enough now that people no longer ask me how I feel about it. Believe me, it’s a blessing. I’m not sure that what I feel about it has a name. Just a jumble of memories that get hazier every day, leaving behind this vague angst coupled with a soft dread as I spend the evening waiting for the sirens to go off again. Some sadness there too, guilt for friends we lost to the storm.
I would never have said any of this spare in free-writing. These thoughts they’re small things. I’m not hurt. I’m not damaged. I don’t need a shoulder to cry on. I don’t need comfort or sorrow or pity or anything else, really.
Anniversaries are a weird thing. I think this post has been stuck in my head since then.
I guess I’m just standing in the shadow a catastrophe. It’ll pass.