I awoke on the couch during a thunderstorm the other night. Lately I can’t seem to make it to bed before I close my eyes, so this has become an unfortunate habit of late; minus the thunderstorm. This was the first thunderstorm we’ve had this spring and it reminded me of a new fear that my mind created only last summer.
One morning, on Preston and Steve on Philadelphia’s WMMR morning show, their topic was related to people being struck by lightning. A conversation like this likely resulted from a news story about a survival or death from such an event. Regardless, callers quickly filled the airwaves with personal accounts of being struck by lightning or what they’ve heard it’s like, etc.
I’m quite familiar with lightning; my Dad is a Weather Channel junkie. Though most people, before smart phones and the internet, would turn on the twenty-four hour weather broadcast to get a quick update, Dad would watch for what felt like hours. Either he was hoping something would change or he missed his calling as a forecaster. It reminded me of when people would constantly open the refrigerator, hoping something of interest would appear out the air, even though the stock was thoroughly evaluated five minutes prior. Anyway, the Weather Channel fascination was before they had weather related shows to fill time as well, so imagine boring and looped information. Needless to say though, lightning was the grand-daddy of weather events for Dad.
Mom called Dad “Ben Franklin” because despite his knowledge about impending thunderstorms, whether the notification came from the Weather Channel or from the cracks of thunder out the window, Dad was also a compulsive pool skimmer. There’s Dad again, walking the rim of the pool with the metal poled skimmer, making sure there aren’t pine needles congregating on the surface. Though we eventually got him to stop doing this prior to it killing him, his favorite spot during a thunderstorm is on the patio, watching or snoozing on the lounge chair, in a nice accessible metal patio.
So the fear I had of thunderstorms, was only for my Dad. I never feared that I would be struck; until last summer. Preston and Steve brought up how victims of strikes would feel tingles milliseconds prior to being stuck or the hair on their hairs would rise up. By the time you notice, they said, it’s typically too late. It’s as if the lightning has chosen you and the warning is just the signal that it’s coming. That night, we had a big summer thunderstorm. It was the kind that last all night. In my slumber, I had combined the memory of the radio broadcast and the sound of the actual storm; my half sleepy mind actually conjured up sensations of tingles. I became petrified that I was about to be struck by lightning, without even realizing I had created the fear myself. I was truly scared and anxious, riddled with fear that it was about to happen to me.
Having not had too many fears until this point in my life, I’m not quite sure how to dispose of it. It seems so simple but to a drowsy mind, the trick my memory had played was frightening. Needless to say, I awoke the other night and obeyed all the “do not touch this or that” rules of thunderstorm common knowledge and willed myself to stay awake till it passed, convincing myself that I was just crazy. I’d rather be a little crazy than scared. Maybe I can get Preston and Steve to talk about how fun being struck is, so next time I just quietly giggle in my sleep.