Monday, April 17, 2006

Life changes

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.


John said...

I remember living in Arkansas and running to the closet(there was no basement) everytime we heard the siren go off. Were we ever in the path of a tornado? No. Do I ever regret the time I spent there knowing that I would be (more) safe than if I were not there? No. It reminds me of JS-Matthew. We need to watch and pray always because we know not the day, hour, etc. when it will happen, but we can always try to be prepared, like running to the basement when the sirens go off for refuge - running to our mountains of safety.

JS-Matt 1:47 But know this, if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to have been broken up, but would have been ready.

Mrs. Z. said...

How scarey for you. I remember how quickly a wind storm comes up from when we were in Nauvoo on our mission. We were in some severe storms, but not of the calibre you experienced. Just glad you are all OK. Keep that conduit open to heaven so you know when to duck in the future. Mrs. Z.

Boss said...

I didn't realize how close it was to Shane until after it had already passed, so it wasn't nearly as scary as it could have been. In fact, when the alarm first sounded, I couldn't decide whether it was worth waking Sam up to take him down to the basement--I thought it was little more than one of those tornado watches that don't amount to much. But I called a friend who lives on my street, and she and her family were already in the basement, so I decided I'd better get myself and my creatures down there too. Sam went back to sleep on the guest bed downstairs, and we just waited it out. It's more scary to me in retrospect--seeing the damage around town and knowing how I initially dismissed the danger. I don't think I'll be waiting around before heading to the basement in the future.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you are all safe and were only "close." Thanks for posting the pictures of that cute little Sam. Aunt Betty

Tarimisu said...

I HAAAATE tornados. Hate them, hate them, hate them. I am SO glad ya'll were (are) ok. Isn't it amazing, the randomness of it all? We've been seeing footage of the storms on the news. When we were heading home after the evacuation for Rita, we took a path that went straight through some of the most damaged areas near Beaumont. We couldn't believe what we saw - one business totally destroyed, another left standing. Weird. The scariest thing I have ever seen was the top of a tornado and swriling debris while I was in Arkansas, I think about 2000. Everyone wanted to get in a crawl space under the house, but I was freaking out thinking that the house would collapse on us! Anyway, everyone was fine, but I still HAAAAATE tornados or any storm with lots of wind.