Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Summer is long, hot, and listless. It's only just begun and already the days seem to stretch out, hazy morning becoming humid day before transitioning into steamy night. Only the thunderstorms that roll across the Midwest break the stagnant routine. They keep a regular schedule, showing up around five and working a shift that any vampire could be proud of. Late at night I wake to the staccato taps of the first raindrops on my windowpane. The bedroom vibrates with the light of distant lightning and I count—one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, three-Mississippi before the sound arrives. The seconds between flash and boom are breathless, alive in the way only the mysterious life of nature can be alive. I lay in bed torn between two halves of myself.
The kid inside me wants to run outside, feel the breath of the approaching storm on his face and the yearning warm grass under his feet. He wants to stare up into the roiling clouds and wonder at the arc light that flickers in their bellies. He wants to feel those raindrops, cool and refreshing, striking his face and driving back the heat of summer for an hour or two.
The adult worries about things like whether the surge protector in the UPS connected to his computer would stop a power spike. He obsesses over the gutter that the maintenance crew hasn't fixed, the one that will spill rainwater on the deck and send waterfalls streaming down the siding. He thinks about the National Geographic special on lighting strikes, how more people are killed each year by lightning than tornadoes, and how dangerous it would be to go outside to gawk at the storm even though he'd secretly like to.
We all lay, having this convoluted discussion among ourselves while thunderheads sail across the land. Their billowing sails reach for the stars and they eclipse the moon as they set an easterly course. It's as if the pilgrims arrived, took a tour of the country, and decided they were better off in the old world. They head for the dark and boundless Atlantic firing goodbye salvos as they go.
When the storms pass the night is still and ripe. Droplets catch the light of the moon's freshly washed face and lightning bugs scale grassy masts, blinking their intent to the darkness. The retreating lightning is nothing more than an electric postcard, sent from the east filled with memories of times gone by and finished off with a rumbling signature. I sink into my pillow and close my eyes, thinking about tomorrow and the tomorrows that will follow and all of their deadlines, disappointments, and challenges. But I dream about riding the wind on a hot summer night.