Life changes fast.
Life changes in the instant.
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.
These lines are the first in the book I just read for my current class: The Year of Magical Thinking. But before you go out and buy it, let me tell you I've already shared the best part of the book (I didn't really like it much). The surreal part about these lines is that I struggled to read them from the emergency lights in the institute building while I was stranded there during the tornadoes--the tornadoes I wasn't expecting when everything was going normal when we started class at 7:00. The tornado that skirted along only a few hundred yards from the building I was in.
I distinctly remember thinking about the Dairy Queen (photo 1) on Hwy 6 a couple days ago. I thought, that's a great place with local character, and I wish we had gone there more often. I'm going to miss it. Then, that night, I was disappointed to hear that it was pretty much destroyed. Also, our Menards was ruined. The Menards where we bought the supplies to paint our house. And the flower shop (photo 2) where I got Boss Valentine's Day flowers when we were engaged. And the parking spaces (3) we used for Boss's class near the library. And the gas station (4) where the bonsai stand had been last summer. And the place that aligned our tires (5).
All hit by a tornado. I admit that the destruction isn't "Katrina" level, but it's so much more real when you know (are?) the people affected.
Perhaps the most disturbing part about it all is how close we came to family disaster without even realizing it at the time. I was teaching the institute class and I didn't even have the students go to the basement when the sirens went off. The students were laughing at me. "You're not from Iowa, are you," they snickered when I looked troubled by the alarm. But afterward, hearing that there were 150 mph winds and knowing that the path was dangerously close to our building, I regretted caving to their pressure. We should have been having class in the basement.
There's no "for reals" tornado alarm. I've heard the sirens before. In fact, I probably have permanent hearing loss from sitting through lectures my whole M1 year when the alarms were constantly going off in the recently constructed building we held classes in. So, how is one supposed to know when to take alarms or sirens seriously? I guess you just have to stay vigilant and climb under a safe structure, just like they taught in Kindergarten.