In late Spring when the sky balayaged to a deep somber grey, I’d sit with my knees gathered up to my chest under Grandma’s top sheet and pull it up to my ears. The wind would whistle and crack through the old oak. If the storm was going to be bad, Harold Taft would tell me so from in front of a weather map on the black-and-white rabbit-eared TV. If not, Bo and Luke Duke would continue to harass a muttering Boss Hogg on the Dukes of Hazzard.
All too soon I’d hear the tell-tale ting, ping, ting-ping-ping of rain on the window ac unit until the room filled with a beautiful symphonic movement – crashing and flickering and the calm chaos of Spring.
It was such a moment when I first learned what it felt like to be alone and brave. Mom had taken my brother somewhere brotherish and Grandma was in the kitchen filling the house with the smell of chicken fried steak, biscuits, mashed potatoes, and gravy.
I was back in the bedroom when the sky suddenly went dark and the ting-pinging started. Only it wasn’t rain. At four years old, in all my put togethers I hadn’t heard a sound like that. Ice cubes were banging off the windows, Taft was saying a “bad” word on the TV (hell/hail?), and I was scared.
I pulled the top sheet over my head and sang at the top of my voice – “a sailor went to sea, sea, sea, to see what he could see, see, see…”
Anything to drown out the crashing out there.
It was just then that I made a conscious decision that I wasn’t going to be scared. Maybe I borrowed courage from the sailor going to the sea. I’d only ever heard about the sea, but it seemed like a place a little girl could get lost forever in, but if the sailor could be brave, so could I. I don’t know what came over me. I was suddenly determined to go see, see, see what was banging on the window.
I slowly peeked out, swung my little legs off the bed, put my bare feet on the just-swept floor, and walked to the window. My eyes were probably as wide as any of the hail stones falling outside.
I made it to the window, looked out, and just stood there on tip-toes watching the storm.
The banging slowed, then stopped, and the rain started in again.
I could handle rain. It was comforting.
Grandma called in from the kitchen, “Sweet Baby Ma-lisssa. You stay away from the windas, ya hear now?”
I ran from the window, quick-climbed back into bed, and tucked myself in.
“Yes Gramma. I love you Sweet Baby Gramma.”
Not sure why this moment has my attention tonight.
Maybe because it’s quiet in my life right now and I’m usually alone.
Maybe because I’m in a storm right now and surprised at how calming it is to let it fall around me while I look on.
Maybe because I’m meeting people tomorrow for the first or second time in my life and being vulnerable enough to meet them means I’m risking rejection and it scares me to death, but I’m going anyway.
All I know is, that brave little girl lives in me, and we’re far too courageous to lie in bed while the world and all it’s mysteries clang and crash about us.
I love moments like these where life startles me brave.