The prompts the last couple of weeks have given me a bit of trouble (as have the inner workings of my life in general), so much so, in fact, that I skipped last week entirely. I had a great title for the post, Somewhere That's Green, but that was it. Anyway, I was lying in a somewhat tepid bath a few moments ago, pondering where the word phenomenon would take me and realising that I am the only person on the planet who has absolutely no interest in whether or not Harry Potter dies at the end of the book (though I am eternally grateful to J.K. Rowling for the number of my semi-literate students she has encouraged to pick up reading as a pastime instead of gang-related drive-bys). I'm also lukewarm on the topic of Crocs, even after hearing former Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez announce during a game the other night that he probably has close to a dozen pairs in a rainbow of colours. There are apparently websites out there devoted to Croc-haters, and while I disdain the current fashion craze for ugly plastic clogs with holes in them the size of subway tokens (yes, I realise they're neither rubber nor plastic, but a trademarked polymer blend, but still. This is supposed to be healthy for me how?) I really can't get into too much of a lather about it. I'm busy hating so many other things.
But then, while I was lying in a tub roughly the temperature of my attitude towards so many of these current frenzies, it struck. First, it was just a puff of fresh air, a glint of blue light, and a faint ozone smell through the open window. Then, moments later, I was stung by a thousand tiny needles of cold and my mother was rushing upstairs to close her bedroom windows.
There's something refreshing about lying in a warm bath while getting rained on, something wild and slightly decadent, almost like skinny-dipping. Which is ridiculous, since of course you're naked when you take a bath, but somehow this is more dangerous. I've always loved thunderstorms, especially those rich, powerful ones that slam across the hills of Pennsylvania and up the Delaware like freight trains at four in the afternoon every day of the week some Augusts. Especially the ones that splattered across the vacant schoolyard macadam in Schnecksville the summer I spent with my cousin Christine, every afternoon like clockwork on our way home from the community pool. Or the ones that bounced back and forth across the hills between Canopus Hollow and Brewster, echoing through the valley for hours and cutting the power to our house (sometimes for days) and once frying the internal modem of my old iBook when lightning struck the transformer right outside the house.
I accidentally caused a thunderstorm once, driving home across Pennsylvania. I can't remember what I was angry at him for; I only remember that I was roiling with rage as I drove home with Chloe while he followed in another car. We watched the clouds boil up on either side of us, and my fingers clenched the steering wheel so hard that I was leaving nail marks in it, and when lightning struck the car neither of us was surprised, but I was blinded by the shower of sparks as it arced out to something on the overpass we were crossing. The next thing I remember is being three or four miles down the road, my ears still ringing, the hair on my left arm still standing up, and the searing jolt still echoing down the nerves to my fingers like when I was little and my sisters and I used to dare each other to touch the electric fence that kept the mules in.
We figured it was because I'm left-handed, or because I usually perch my left elbow on the window-ledge of the car while driving, or because it's the side closest to the heart, which was undoubtedly a little freaked out at having its own electrical current tampered with, but I knew it was as much the wedding ring as anything else. When we could talk again, Chloe looked over at me with a faint smile and suggest perhaps I call him and apologize before I got us both killed.