Summer has arrived in Colorado. It is my favorite time of year. In fact, I would prefer that it was summer all year-round except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Is that too much to ask? I think not.
This summer we have already experienced record-breaking temperatures as well as some fairly spectacular thunderstorms. It's like God is putting on a show for a million people to watch. It's pretty hard to top that. However, the other night, we experienced something that was familiar to my upbringing yet wildly unfamiliar to my current location: we had a tornado warning.
Now, for those of you who are reading this and reside in Oklahoma or any other state in this glorious country that experiences twisters on a regular basis, you may laugh at this story. You may even say to yourself, "Suck it up, Sarah. Tornado warnings are just the weatherman's way of saying we should drive around and look for danger." You may have even planned your first date around a tornado warning.
Well let me say this to you then: "You are nuts and I am probably related to you."
I actually don't mind severe weather, it can be pretty amazing to witness just as long as you aren't left with just your bathtub the next morning. But the western part of Denver never, ever has tornado warnings. It has something to do with the proximity of the mountains and El Niño.
Two weeks ago, when all hell broke loose and the skies dumped hail and rain like it was the Apocalypse, I decided it would be the perfect time to take an Ambien. Since most of our bad weather moves eastward, and since most of the storms were already east of my house, I figured I was safe to consume (perfectly legal) drugs. Besides, I was having trouble sleeping and I was aching for a good night's sleep. Plus I had those eternally long meetings to attend and I knew that if I didn't get some rest, I would be napping under the table in a room full of world leaders. Professionally, I didn't think that would be my best move.
So, I popped a pill and snuggled into bed.
Twenty minutes later, just as that wonder drug began to work its magic, my mom tells me that there is a funnel cloud over my house.
From that moment on, I felt like I was in a slow-motion action sequence. I remember crawling out of bed, thinking that I need to put on tennis shoes and a sports bra because you don't want to be that person who doesn't have on supportive undergarments during your live TV interview in what are now the remains of your house. I also grabbed a water bottle and my iPad. Oh, and I put on my glasses just in case all of my contact lenses were blown to Wyoming.
Somehow I made it down two flights of stairs to the basement. I went as far as I could into the storage room because it did not have any windows. Besides, if I survived this tornado, I knew that the Christmas decorations and my Easter basket would survive as well. It's the small things that really matter in a time of crisis.
And then I sat there. Waiting. Listening to the roar that was all around. I kept blinking. And swaying. And blinking again, trying hard to not pass out into the bag of wrapping paper. I began texting friends who I knew were also holed up in storage units or bathtubs. Some replied back, others, I came to find out, slept through the entire thing.
I am not sure how long I was there. I think I stared at the wall for a large majority of the time. But eventually the roaring stopped. I gathered my water bottle and trudged up the two flights of stairs and fell into the first bed I saw, which happened to not be my own. I have no recollection of shutting off lights, taking off my shoes or falling into bed.
I am thinking that Ambien-induced tornadoes are the only way to go.
The next morning, it looked like an F-5 had ripped through my hair and a semi-truck had landed on my face. But my house was still standing and no one had died. In fact, a tornado had never really touched the ground, only just the wind, hail and rain that comes with it.
But it did make for an interesting meeting the next day. I may or may not have signed up for a trip to Libya in the fall. I will keep you posted on this.