Friday, June 3, 2011
Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more...
Let me tell ya, there's nothing like seeing a tornado racing toward you to make you feel your mortality. Two days ago I was in the thick of it. Literally. I had only just heard that there was a tornado warning minutes before, and was driving toward Oaky's which was only a 5 minute drive at the most from where I was. I thought there was enough time to get over the bridge to his place before anything happened. Then I looked up and saw clouds swirling... I get to this traffic light at the bridge entrance and as we are waiting for it to turn green the wind started. The wind was like nothing I'd seen before - not that you can actually see wind, except, this time you could because it was carrying bits and pieces of the city with it. The wind grew and grew, along with this dark cloud of debris, until it was right in front of us, and then I realized I was seeing the actual funnel. I was mere feet from an actual tornado. Shingles, branches, dirt, leaves, even a few tires and lots of mystery objects were hurling through the air. Even a large metal road-side sign came flying toward my windshield. I didn't even have time to duck, it all happened so fast. Thank goodness (or whatever or whoever was watching me that day) the sign went up and over my car, landing between my car and the one in back of me, not hurting anyone. It definitely left scrape marks on the roof of my car but I will gladly live with that. I'm 5'2'', anyway, I have to stand on my toes just to see the roof of the car so it won't really bother me. Besides, they're like battle scars. "Look what I survived!"
When the tornado finally passed and traffic started moving again, I drove over the bridge in a state of shock and panic. On the other end of the bridge was an overturned 18-wheeler. Exit the bridge. Billboards had been torn down. Roofs collapsed. Trees uprooted and thrown through windows and crushing cars, homes, businesses. Windows had been blasted out everywhere. Utility poles and wires were down in every direction. Every road was blocked. I got turned around so many times I eventually didn't know where I was. I knew I was less than a mile from Oaky's place but I couldn't get there. Trees and downed wires blocked every single street. As I drove through the maze of streets it began to hit me what had just happened.... I called Oaky and the connection was bad. I couldn't get through to anyone else. Even cell service had been interrupted. I finally got him on a clear line with no static. By this time I was yelling "TORNADO!!!" and was approaching hysterics. I told him I couldn't get through any of the side streets to cross to where he was. We finally decided I would pull into a parking lot (the local grocery store) and he would find a way to get to me. I parked the car, turned it off, and started sobbing. Two college-aged young women came and knocked on my window asking if I was okay. I blurted out everything that had just happened between sobs. Those poor girls, probably thought I was crazy. I offered them some melting ice cream pops that were in my trunk (never buy groceries during a tornado watch, you might not get the perishables home before they perish!) but they were too melted to eat. After they left I sat in the car drinking Powerade until Oaky finally arrived. I had never been so happy to see him. All my muscles were in knots, I was on hyper-alert, and every time the wind blew I jumped. We drove and drove and finally got back to his place. What should have been a 3 minute drive had turned into almost an hour of fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-adventure. But not the fun kind. The scare-the-shit-of-you kind.
So, it's 2 days later and I am fully re-acquainted with my fibromyalgia right now. The pain and fatigue are both high. I don't think I've been able to keep my eyes open for more than an hour at a time. I even paused in the middle of writing this to close my eyes for a few minutes. And thank gods for spell-check cuz between the fibro-fog and the stiff achy fingers I am committing multiple spelling atrocities. *shudders* The physical symptoms will fade within the week, I'm sure... but the emotional? Well, let's just say I am not eager to get back behind the wheel, especially on a windy day.