According to the tiny man who lives in the dashboard of my car and speaks to me during my morning commute there is going to be a storm today. A moderately big ‘un. Winds up to 50 MPH this afternoon. Possible power outages. As a result of this onerous news I am having immense difficulty focusing at work.
I want so badly for the power to go out. Then I can go home, put on my fuzzy pants and Bobs and watch the weather. The power is still stubbornly on and likely won’t go out but I sit here and stare out my window anyway as all the pretty fall leaves blow on by.
Extreme weather makes me feel excited, on edge, there’s always a spike of adrenaline when I hear thunder, when the wind blows hard, or when the rain pours down so thick it almost looks like snow. I have a long-standing affection for extreme weather, it’s brings with it the sensation that danger is in the room, silent and refined, brushing past your arm while chills run up your neck.
I remember specifically one instance of being caught at the mercy of the elements. I was about 9 years old and my mother and I were on one of our very frequent hikes around Dana Point (a rocky little beach in California surrounded by eroded and sharp cliffs). We would ride our bikes there almost every weekend (a 50 mile ride!) and go hiking around the cliffs. Sometimes we found dead seals, other times, when the tide was low, we found secret beaches that were isolated and pristine (owing the fact that you had to endure a one-hour hike through the water and arrive at exactly low tide to find them), and we explored some of the many caves that dot the California coastline.
During one such routine hike, the weather went from blue skies to coastal storm very very quickly. We were about an hour away from the beach where we’d left our bikes (and phones/supplies/coats) and were approaching my favorite cave. The wind started blowing very hard and the waves started rising really quickly. The tide was coming in faster than we’d anticipated and dark clouds were blowing in across the water. After analyzing the situation my mother decided that it would be wise to continue hiking to the cave so that we could wait out the storm and be dry at the same time.
This cave was my favorite because it was a proper cave. It was large, had a pretty low ceiling (I was about 5 feet tall by then and there was a 2-foot clearance above my head), and there were two entrances, both facing the water, and both generally submerged most of the time. At low tide there was about a foot of water in the entrance of the cave and I think that you would have to swim into the cave at high tide.
Anyway, we made it to the cave, wet and cold, and sat down on the rocks and looked out to the ocean. Like I said, this cave was right on the water so it had a prime view of the open water. We sat there for what seems like a very short time but what must have been a long time because by the time the storm blew over it was dark outside.
I just remember feeling very small in that cave. The wind was blowing up choppy white peaks for as far as we could see and the waves were hitting the rocks so hard the spray made it all the way up to where we were sitting. I wasn’t scared, though, just excited. I felt like I’d been electrocuted. My skin tingled and I couldn’t sit still. I felt small not because I was small but because the world was so big.
I still feel small when the sky seems to open up. When the wind blows down trees, the rain floods the parking lot, or lighting and thunder both blind and deafen me I feel like I’m 9 again, marveling at how very big the world can be.