Storm Days

Hurricane Isaac is sprinkling through our yard as I type, and we’ve been notified by local school officials that our kids are not going to school today for their safety and the safety of the staff.

It’s raining. Part of me just cannot believe my kids are getting out of school because it’s raining and windy at the same time. Part of me is glad they’ll be home.

I can remember being very, very young at my private christian school. It was a school where we had to wear dresses every day and we went to chapel once a week. I’m going to guess I was six, because when you’re as old as I am it’s plausible that I can remember back only so far, and six seems reasonable.

So I was six and there was a tropical storm or a hurricane or something and I was at school, because my parents worked and I was always at school, even after school hours were over. I was in daycare until they could come get me. I had before school care, and after school care, and summer school care, and I have no idea how they afforded it all but I’m glad they did. Thanks guys. Back to my story.

I recall the power going in and out after school, and we all huddled into this hallway near the front office with my daycare teacher, Mrs. Watson. Mrs. Watson always wore her dark hair in a bun, with a t-shirt tucked into her long khaki skirt.  The fact that she wore tennis shoes and socks with those skirts bothered me even as a six-year-old. We got to use the bathrooms at the front of the church, which were usually reserved for adults in their Sunday dresses and pantyhose and fancy shoes, not sticky-fingered kids dirty from the playground. There was a long pew on one wall covered in crunchy orange velvet fabric on the seat, then a hard floor and a concrete wall on the other side. The kids sat on the floor, and we didn’t complain. We all sat watching the rain through the glass double doors that led out to the parking lot. Parents would trudge in one after the other to pick up their kids.

I remember my dad coming to pick me up and I remember how his car always smelled like his aftershave. We drove home in his little company car, and when we turned into our neighborhood we were very, very quiet. Two doors down from our house, my best friend’s roof was missing. It had been shaved off by a chain link fence flying through the air. The screens to our porch were gone, and there were trees down in various yards. It was terrifying, yet fascinating as we kept trying to figure out how a tornado could so viciously attack some houses and just carelessly pass by others like drunk bumbling idiot stumbling through a restaurant. I remember feeling so lucky that my roof didn’t get shaved off by a fence.

I won’t tell my kids that story today, because I don’t want to freak them out. But while I’m teasing them about missing school because it’s raining, I’ll watch for flying fences.

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