Monday, April 04, 2005

Remembering Lightning

My mother would once and a while tell me to be careful about lightning. It always puzzled me because her concern seemed so odd. I never had a problem with storms. I had a problem sleeping at night. Everyone would get tired, go to bed and then sleep. I would stand there looking at them, sleeping, wondering how they could do this thing. I would try to lie down in bed and lay there, wide awake. If I closed my eyes and let my mind wander, bad things would happen so I learned to be watchful at night and not let anything happen.

At first, I tried to stay up with my parents and they would send me back to bed. This upset me and I would shed tears that did little. So I learned to lurk. Once my parents were asleep, I could wander about, undetected.

I would stare at walls and try to discontinue myself so I could pass through the wall and reemerge on the other side. Somehow, this was possible. Anything was possible. I started Kindergarden. First day in school, the teacher took one look at me and said, "Oh, it is the little girl who was hit by lightning". I decided she was my enemy. Ever wary, I kept her at bay. She said to us, "We have 'show and tell'. Bring in something interesting and tell us about it".

So I went out with Lassie, hunting. It felt peculiar. It was early Fall, nearly a year later, and the rocks of the rock walls were warm in the sun. I found a slithery silky garter snake. Putting it into my bag, I took it to school the next day. When it was my turn to show the class something nice, I pulled out the snake that coiled around my small arm, gripping it tightly, mouth agape, and said, "This is my new friend". The teacher screamed.

Most of the children ran. I looked around in puzzlement. There are many things scarier than snakes. Like sleeping, for example.

It was my first trip home from school in disgrace. Well enough. I wanted only to roam, anyway, but my mother sent me back to toil in the school.

"Everyone draw a picture", said the teacher. She was wary around me. She hovered over my labors. I decided to draw a crowd scene, many semi human creatures all trying to enter a crossroads. It had many figures in it, my mother kept it in her closet box for years and years.

This is when I got to meet a psychiatrist. He asked me many questions. He asked about the Lightning. I told him it was not possible to talk about it. Didn't have the words, yet. When I did try using words, suffocating cold would freeze my mind so I let it go. He asked me if I could draw for him. I drew a stick horse with extravegant wings and big dark eyes. "This is my best friend", I explained.

He couldn't help me. Despite his sorrow.

Other children didn't like me much. Who would want to play with a girl who is likes to go up to trees, put her hands on the trunk and stare hard at the bark? Merging with trees is not a popular childhood game. Haunting the observatory, I became a living spectre. Scientists would be startled to see me standing there, staring at them. I was studying them. Trying to figure out what made them human. It was an interesting exercise. My parents still let me roam about the place. During thunderstorms, we would go into the Observatory. The thunder would echo in the dome, bouncing off the curved walls. There was a chest that vibrated with the thunder and it was fun, standing on it. The lightning didn't scare me. I had to watch it. Closely.

No storm could approach without me knowing. As an adult, I could be deep inside a building, in a basement, and I could tell lightning was coming. As a child, it spooked adults. "I think a storm will be here in the afternoon", I would say, knowing this would irk anyone but my dad. He was delighted I had this skill. Guess being a human barometer was a blessing, to him. Something to envy.

My older brother, Wally, tried to scare me that Halloween with an ugly king mask. I thought it was very interesting. But my younger brother was very scared by it. So he would hide behind me while I would laugh. This annoyed my mother enough for her to take the mask away and put it in the trash. I thought, everyone was wearing a mask. What was the difference.


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