Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Oh hell, trouble is coming . . .

One of the great things about listening to AM radio is that you can "hear" an approaching thunderstorm. The lightning produces a burst of static in the radio signal, so as the storm gets closer, it gets harder and harder to hear the radio program through the storm.

My wife kicked us all out of the house tonight so that she could clean up. We've been painting and rearranging the house in advance of a realtor coming by tomorrow. The first floor of the house was a total wreck when we left, and she promised that it would be spotless when we returned. (It was, yay!)

All 4 boys and I celebrated this Mandatory Boys Night Out by going to my parents' house. We stopped a Zaxby's on the way to pick up dinner and actually got to their house before they got home from work.

The boys ran through all the field events of the Grandparent Decathlon:
  • search for and find "hidden" toys
  • stare and pick at dinner long enough to get credit
  • drink sodas from the downstairs fridge
  • eat fudgcicles
  • eat cookies
  • play in the backyard
  • take a bath in The Big Bathtub
  • watch crap on TV
All this in 90 minutes or less, which I believe is a new world record. All that were left were the bed events: whining, jumping, switching, and falling asleep mid-sentence. The Bigs got to stay over for the night, but we had prepped The Littles beforehand so there was hardly any crying.

Then we stopped of at my in-laws to drop off some books, chat, play with the dog, and share some iPod figuring-out time. Finally, we drove through the bank to deposit my paycheck.

So it was 8:30 or so when we hit the road, and there was a huge thunderstorm over North Atlanta as we were headed down 400. Listening to the Hugh Hewitt show, we could hear the lightning get more and more frequent.

At about Windward Parkway we could begin to see the sky light up with each flash. Sometimes we could see the bolt itself; most times the gray clouds just turned orange in a certain direction. Jonah, sitting in the way-back, could see the lightshow through the front windshield and would call out "Wow!", "Awesome!", or "Cool!" with each spectacular display. Even Sam would say "Look" every now and then, and then use his Laa-Laa doll to point out his window.

In a car, an approaching storm, lightning in the sky, air cooling quickly, flashes of static on the radio. And suddenly I'm 4 years old again, in the back seat of my grandmother's car. I'm sitting in the floorboard playing; my cousin Michael is in the car. We're on a backroad highway somewhere in Alabama, probably coming home from picking him up to spend a week at our house.

I remember the feeling of tension and fear. There's a storm coming up behind us and the adults are trying to decide whether or not to leave the road. At some point a decision is made. We're going to try to beat the storm.

I stand up on the seat to look out the back window, and I see the sky. Blue above us, behind us are white clouds fading to gray, and then darker to black at the road. Lightning is there in the cloud, and sometimes we can hear the thunder from a close strike.

Faster and faster, we finally beat the storm as I watch out the back window the whole time.

It's a vivid memory, even now. The Crowded House song In The Lowlands always reminded me of it.

Judging from the cheers and chuckles coming from behind me tonight, it seems Jonah and Sam will remember this night differently.


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