Thursday, July 15, 2004

Lightning

There are many, many things that JennySlash and I have in common, from a love of the Monkees, a dislike of slasher films while enjoying the horror/scifi movies from Toho, Hammer Studios and American International, an agreement that George Bush is crud and that Dick Cheney is an evil cyborg, the list goes on and on. But there are some things for which we are polar opposites - our feelings towards Nature's Fireworks being a prime example. This was highlighted last night during our walk in the neighborhood - while I was enjoying some gorgeous cloud-to-cloud stuff away to the south, far enough off that it was primarily lighting up the clouds in between the strikes and us (absolutely beautiful!), I heard her say "I didn't know it was lightning - I think I'm going back in." Oh my goodness...

My love of lightning goes back at least to summer afternoons growing up in Nashville, sitting on lounge chairs with my grandfather in the open doorway of the garage of his house, watching the lightning flashing across the fields behind his place as the rain swept across the backyard. One of those afternoons was the first and only time I ever saw ball lightning as it appeared to roll across the yard towards the electic company substation just behind his lot.

I spent the summer of '77 at Governor's School at Salem College in Winston-Salem, the first three weeks or so being some of the hottest days on record for central Carolina (a lot of them are still records). It broke 100 a number of those days and didn't drop below 78 most nights. And there was no rain. But there were some awesome lightning displays, which a number of us used to enjoy lying on our backs in the parking lot outside the Fine Arts Center (the only really air-conditioned building on campus at the time), watching purple lightning streak across the sky as the clouds built towards the eventual relief of a huge rainstorm.

My last year in high school I discovered that my friend Meredith shared my love of lightning and we always managed to skip class to go stand under the awning connecting the school proper with the gym during those late spring storms that hit in the weeks before graduation when it didn't take much to get our minds off classwork.

I can't really explain my fascination with lightning and thunderstorms. I know I find that rolling thunder sounds comforting and reassuring and that I can feel the building charge of an approaching storm, but instead of making me uncomfortable as it does JennySlash it actually relaxes me to a point that I sleep better during thunderstorms than under any other conditions. I love the crack of really loud thunder from a nearby groundstrike (like we had when visiting Greensboro last Saturday - excellent show!). As much as I love a clear blue sky, I find the cloud patterns of building storms to be majestic and awe-inspiring. I certainly don't relish the damage or destruction that they cause, so this really does seem to be visceral and not cerebral.

Whatever the reasons, my sweetie does not share my enjoyment of them. She will sometimes tell of me going out onto the covered porch of a condo we were renting in Manteo, beers in hand, to watch the big storm rolling through, only to take one sip and fall immediately asleep in the Adirondack chair and missing the whole thing. This story is usually accompanied by that little sad shake of her head that is the international symbol for "that boy just ain't RIGHT!".  Ah well, I suppose it's okay in a relationship that we have things that are our own.

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