Monday, May 24, 2004

I'm trying to be a big girl.

For as long as I can recall, I've had this horror of thunderstorms. It feels unreasonable, and the rational part of me understands that I'm pretty safe from lightning strikes.
The emotional side, however, will not listen to reason. Friends, families, loves have poked fun at my fear. Even the cats will give me no quarter in my time of need.

About my sophomore year of college, I had a relationship with a neighbor that consisted only of his coming over to hold me during storms. Though I don't really miss him - this was a very long time ago, after all - I do miss that contact, that comfort of having someone near me who was only there to see me safe. Sort of like a dad, only different.

I remember hiding behind the door that led to our back balcony when my mom, my stepfather and my brother would sit out and watch the jagged light in the sky, 'ooh' ing and 'aah' ing at the natural pyrotechnics as though they were firecrackers. The fascination was always marred by blind fear of being struck and of the pain from the aftershocks. Everyone else seemed to enjoy these storms except me. What caused me to be so sensitive?

My mother tells me that it was my paternal grandmother who planted these seeds of fear in me when I was little. My recollections are only of staying with her in the summer and being woken up at night (she'd sleep with me). We'd move down to the parlor and sit in her red leather chair by the picture window. She'd rock me and hold me and hand me peanut cookies and tell me that we were big girls, that there was nothing to be afraid of, right? Big girls weren't scared of the night storms. Big girls didn't fear the electricity or dread the loud noise. It was only angels bowling, after all, and they could have fun if they wanted. A particularly loud crash would follow and she'd squeeze my hand tighter and repeat the same mantra faster - we were big girls and big girls weren't afraid.

I wonder if Grandma is still afraid of the storms or if she is having a ball up there bowling with the angels. I'd love to know - it would help so much. I can't though. I can only look up into the sky, cringe a bit, hug myself, wish for a cookie and keep telling myself that I'm a big girl, I shouldn't be scared.

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