Those of you who know me personally will probably know that the event described herein actually took place a week ago. Since then, I've had a nice wee vacation to calm me down, but I wrote this less than an hour afterwards, hence the immediacy of the language.
Now that my hands have stopped shaking enough to function again, I can tell you that there is at least one aspect of life down here to which I will NOT be able to become accustomed.
That would be the Tornado Warning*.
Those of you from the flatter parts of the American Midwest may not think of these as Any Big Deal, but I just spent 30 minutes hiding in a coat closet**, shaking with fear and adrenalin, and obsessively hitting "refresh" on the weather app on my phone. This was my first time doing this sort of thing, and it was not as much fun as it sounds. Fortunately, after half an hour of listening desperately for sounds of freight trains or crashing debris, and texting back and forth with The Cajun who was in a safe zone with 250 of his co-workers, the warning expired, and I could emerge from my hiding spot, take some deep, calming breaths, and make dinner. No harm done, except some extra gray hairs***.
I find it oddly fascinating how people from different climates and parts of the country (or world) react to different weather and/or geological events. For example, growing up in New England means that I am not particularly bothered by snowstorms and low-grade hurricanes, and four years of college in Indiana means that I can handle a thunderstorm with a fair amount of aplomb. Tornadoes and hail, however, I find anywhere from unsettling to outright terrifying, and the few minor earthquakes I've experienced have nearly sent me into full panic mode****.
On the other hand, several friends from California barely blink at earthquakes that would have me paralyzed with fear, but they're badly upset by thunderstorms and blizzards. And my relatives who live in serious hurricane territory just roll their eyes when another big storm comes along, and get the car ready to evacuate. Nerves of steel, I tell you.
I am grateful that this kind of severe weather seems to be relatively uncommon where we live; something about our proximity to the mountains means (I think) that many of the nastier systems break up just enough, and the really severe stuff scoots around us. And yet we're not quite close enough to the mountains that we get all the ice and snow and weird wind patterns that can be more common up there. We're in a good place.
So. I'm going and pack now for our annual conference trip to Las Vegas. Who would've thought that I could look forward to going there to calm me down?
* For those of you unfamiliar with our system for severe weather alerts^, a "watch" means that conditions are right for the event to occur in your area, so you might want to pay attention to the weather report in case the thunderstorm or ice storm or tornado does, in fact, develop. A "warning," on the other hand, means that the nasty weather is bearing down on you RIGHT NOW (or, in the case of a tornado, could be descending from the clouds at any second), and it might behoove you to fill up lots of water bottles or stay away from windows or hide in a closet^^, or whatever course of action is most appropriate.
^ Like my friends and family in England and Scotland, who rarely have to deal with this kind of nonsense. Just lots of rain, some snow, and the occasional sheep traffic jam.
^^ And lest you think I'm kidding about the closet, I'm not. It's one of the few places away from exterior walls and windows on the bottom floor in our house, and it's the best place to go in this situation, uncomfortable as it may be.** Two notes to self: when we build our dream home down here, we are going to include a storm cellar or basement, and I need to buy a weather radio ASAP.
*** And fortunately, I know how to deal with that problem.
**** Except for the one we had last year, when I simply thought the washing machine had gotten unbalanced and was rattling the house. Didn't realize it was a quake until I checked Twitter.