I like to portray myself as a very strong, brave and stubborn individual, but when it comes to spring in Texas I am the biggest baby in the world. The weather in North Texas is insane, and that’s putting it mildly (unlike its summers). In the winter temperatures drop cool enough to produce snow. In the summer it bakes you like a chocolate chip cookie. Who even knows when fall begins.
The harsh changes in temperatures makes it the perfect breeding grounds for tornadoes. The sky turns into a swampy black color and the clouds droop lower to the ground. The whole experience with a tornado is intense. Last April I went through my first tornado drill, this past Sunday I got to practice again, alone.
I used to sit outside and watch the storms roll in when I lived in Jacksonville, Florida. I would hang out in the garage with my pops and count the number of lightening strikes. It rained everyday in the spring and summer at almost the exact time in the afternoon. I loved it. The thunder and heavy rain could put me to sleep like a baby being rocked.
In Texas I stay huddled under the covers if there is even a slight risk of a storm headed my way. I don’t play with tornadoes. My buddy and meteorologist, Rick Mitchell from NBC5-DFW had told me all week to stay weather aware and I did. My husband was up in Washington State for the weekend and I knew if anything happened I wanted to know about it first. I checked Twitter and kept the news on all day every day.
On Mother’s Day I spent an hour crammed underneath a mattress in my closet with my two pups. The sirens went off as I was digging through old photos. I was sitting on my bedroom floor trying to find the best oldie of my mom to post on Instagram for the holiday. I needed a break from studying and obsessing over the weather.
It’s pretty funny (now) that I spent days paying attention to the weather and nothing severe happened. I took a 15 minutes break to catch my breath and BAM holy tornado. I swear nothing is eerier than sitting around waiting for something to happen while the sirens are going off. It’s the fight or flight response except it gets sawed in half. You have to fight, you can’t run, you just wait.
It took a few seconds for the siren to register as the tornado alarm. I remember thinking, no that has to be an ambulance or firetruck off in the distance. Your brain really does try to protect you from emotional trauma.
A year ago I spent some more quality time with my closet, but last year it had my husband in it with me. I wasn’t upset or afraid. He checked the weather apps while I browsed through Twitter, both trying to get more information on where the tornado/funnel cloud/storm was headed. I wasn’t bawling my eyes out. I was just there and kind of numb.
This year I was alone. After I realized my brain wasn’t playing tricks on me I dashed towards my closet. I had made it a bunker the night before in preparation for Saturday night’s weather that would continue into Sunday.
One dog followed me straight into the closet. She was watching me like we were playing a new game. The other dog went under the bed and I couldn’t convince her to come out by cooing her name or bribing her with treats. I had to get underneath the bed and drag her to the closet. It’s a pretty crappy feeling when you have to drag anything anywhere.
I wrangled all of us into our makeshift bunker within a matter of two minutes. The heart was pounding and my hands were shaking. Have you ever felt so terrified that you thought you were going to puke? I thought haven been through one tornado last year I’d feel some kind of confidence. NOPE. After 15 minutes passed trying to convince my dogs we were going to be okay, I sent out text messages.
“Sirens going off”
My husband had no signal and my mother was at work, but hallelujah my in-laws called me immediately. My mother-in-law asked about school and finals to help distract me from my current situation. My father-in-law searched online for updates on the storm. They couldn’t be in the closet next to me but having them through the phone was more than enough. I wasn’t alone.
It’s funny, I want to be strong, tough and handle things on my own 24/7. My first thoughts after I was situated was MOMMY! Ironic this happened on Mother’s Day, no? I don’t care how old you are, you are never to old to still want your mom and if you’re lucky enough, after you get married you get another one. Thank God for Moms. Happy belated Mother’s Day!