Justin Skolnick lives and works in Portland.

Against the Wind

Originally posted to justin.revision8.com on in Crystal Lake, Illinois

Half summer, half October, the transitions remain violent. Bent signs show the strength of recent winds. A clinic’s squat and heavily-reinforced sign twists its top corner to the grass. Watching electric cables swing I understood why they hang slack: to appease the wind.

Thursday’s tornado siren didn’t wake me; the silent lightning storm did. I was already awake when the siren sounded — jumped from bed, dressed, stuffed my laptop, camera, phone, and chargers into my backpack. As I reached for the photos on my nightstand the alarm stopped. The storm was passing. Rather than unpack I brought it all to work.

Childish as this may seem, I’m relieved to find grief hasn’t such a hold on me as when, on New Year’s Day, three months after losing Amanda, our downstairs neighbor came to explain that their windows were open in the cold to let out the gas. The car filled with clothes, books, paintings, computer, DVD player, and guitars, we fled to my parents’ when the fire truck arrived. No leaks, we learned later. Our neighbor had been drunk and let wind through an open door blow out the oven’s pilot light.

I feel much freer now. Second only to the destruction of the desperate and intoxicated, Nature’s sudden equalizing acts terrify me most. But I’m learning to live with these, too. Compared with my whole backseat and trunk, one backpack’s not so much afterall.