Happy Equinox, everybody! I was lying in bed trying to doze this morning, when the thunder began. Two low, rumbling claps, and after a minute pregnant with omen, the rain and hail started. Daniel had left for school five minutes before. Immediately a dozen thoughts filed through my mind. I knew Daniel was caught in the wet. His bus surely hadn’t arrived yet, so he was standing in the downpour with a dozen other teens. I wondered if his Asperger’s Syndrome made him do something ridiculous, like crawl up under a deck to avoid being hit by lightning. I didn’t think so. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have been so sure.
Those weren’t my first thoughts though. Maybe it’s the recent news from the 9.0 Sendai earthquake and nuclear disaster in Japan. Since our move to Virginia, I’ve found that after a particularly loud event, like a blown electrical transformer, or an earthquake (I’ve been through a couple big ones in California, in the 80s-90s), or even thunder, my mind inevitably drifts to unnerving ends and horrible deaths. Maybe these easterners are comfortable with the sudden changes in pressure, with all the government hot air shooting atmospherically through icy clouds above. I was not, nor will I ever be, an Easterner. My first dozen or so thunderstorms had my mind wondering if this was the beginning of the nuclear holocaust we had all drilled for in schools in the early 70s. Duck and cover, baby!
Santa Cruz had signs around the neighborhood, informing residents that the city was a “Nuclear-Free Zone.” I suppose it was not small bit of irony that left me thinking that terrorists would hardly be predisposed to read the sign then turn the van around and find a different city to nuke. They shrug, turn their partner in crime, and say “What’re ya gonna do? The sign said Nuclear-Free Zone.”
A propos of nothing, my family was travelling through Springfield, Missouri, on January 1, 2002 (the first year after the destruction of the World Trade Center) and we were the dubious recipient of one of the year’s first enhanced TSA inspections of our baggage. We had 8 bags, between us all, heavily laden with gifts from Grandma and Grandpa. TSA took us aside made us open each bag, with an eagle eye that said “Ain’t none o’ you California terrorists blowing up a Missouri airplane!” So they picked through our underwear with a long metal stick, sniffing petulantly at the ceramic tea container of Judi’s, that looked so much like a bomb in the X-Ray. We missed our flight. Next flight out, 7 hours later (if we boarded). At least we got free masking tape to re-box all the Christmas gifts. That’s your free TSA anecdote from the Carpenter archive. Enjoy!
The first rumblings of an atmospheric event still give me cause to jump and wonder if Those Who Hate America finally hit a target with a nuke. I guess, as a child of the early seventies, that fear (like missing the rapture) will always be in the back of my mind. Travel safely on the bus, today, my children. I have a feeling that, in my mind, an explosion from the sky will always signify the beginning of the end of the world.