nine lives

The weather this week has been a bit insane.  On Tuesday, the southern part of the city got pounded by hail.  Cheesman had a little rain, but was mostly unscathed.  Yesterday, it got pitch dark outside; hailed a ton; and flooded the streets before intensifying and getting pretty nasty towards DIA and Aurora.  There were some scary moments, and I was pretty sure we’d lose power.  Luckily, since I worked through the whole thing, we didn’t.  It was rather insane to see the campus where I worked for a bit and did training basically next to a giant cell capable of killing a whole bunch of people.  This afternoon, we had another storm that seems to maybe be coming back again.

Spring storms aren’t really that unusual for Denver.  We are, after all, part of tornado alley.  When I was a kid, I remember 3 pm was always the time it would hail–right as I was walking home from school.  But Denver’s not really been normal in recent years.  We’ve been bone dry, which has resulted in mucho fires that have changed almost every beloved place of mine in this state.

Last September, Boulder, Estes, and Lyons flooded.  Boulder seemed to recover quickly, but the towns nearby didn’t fare so well.  I visited a few weeks back and was absolutely shocked to see what was still going on.  It was like walking on the moon–some alien landscape that just didn’t compute.  I think I was near tears, and a nice little impromptu roadtrip suddenly broke my heart.

I think that was the jaunt that kind of convinced me it was time to leave Colorado.  Not that I hadn’t felt that way a lot of times before, but I didn’t want to feel like that–and I didn’t want those memories to replace my childhood memories.  I don’t even know if I’ll make it up to Estes before I leave.  I don’t want to remember it that way when I’m 1000 miles away.

In any case, the rain–despite the crazy tornadoes–makes me happy.  I can’t help it.  There’s just a joy I feel when I’m witnessing the power and dark beauty of mother nature.  I think it’s just awe-inspiring and beautiful.  Few things make me feel more alive than that energy.  I can always tell when it’s hailing.  I know when to be worried–what tornado weather feels like.  And I’m that crazy girl who runs out to see the storm–to dance in the rain and watch the clouds.  I can’t help it.

Part of that is having confidence about knowing this place and its crazy weather.  I know when to be legit afraid and when I’m probably okay.  And I won’t lie–there’s a certain amount of fearlessness that comes with being an orphan.  When you don’t have family to be devastated by your loss, you take risks you wouldn’t normally take.  Your life is yours and yours alone.  If it goes, it goes.  There is no tragedy when you’re living life on your own terms and not hurting anyone.

Some people might not agree.

I was sitting here, waiting on my dinner to arrive, when I started thinking more about the risks I take every day that other people think are brave or flat out crazy.  I’ve been kind of thinking about it since my last therapy appointment.  My therapist and I were talking about my parents and how they met.  I remember saying I could have never done what my mother did–basically leaving everything she’d ever known, with only the clothes on her back–to be with some guy she’d spent 20 minutes with in a coffee shop.

I told my therapist that I would never have that courage or trust–that what my mother did was totally reckless.  And I remember smiling because my therapist said she thought of me as being so adventurous, brave, and fearless–that it didn’t seem like I’d avoid something like that.  I talked later with a friend about it, and he pointed out that I actually HAVE done things that are pretty much the crazy equivalent of what my mother did.

Yet another way I’m blindsided by how much I’m my mother’s daughter.

People have called me brave my whole life.  But I always discounted it because I knew how scared I was.  It wasn’t that I was brave.  I was just too something or other to stop doing whatever it was.

Maybe, as funny as this sounds, I just didn’t feel like I was worth protecting–though I was very concerned with survival.

Still, I was that kid who would just randomly walk into traffic–oblivious to the danger.  When our apartment building had two fires a couple years ago–I didn’t leave.  I just trusted that the fire fighters would fix it.  I didn’t really believe the danger, to be honest.  When I finally realized it was real, I figured I could always jump from the balcony.  It’s two floors–no big deal.

I would totally have saved my cats first though.

I guess–what it is–is that I don’t really fear death anymore.  The worst case scenario–other than being really hurt and suffering before I died–would be that I’d get to see my parents.  Self-preservation sort of means nothing when you’ve seen how quickly your life can be taken from you.  You realize that all the things that you do to stay safe mean nothing.  If the Universe wants you dead, you’ll be dead.  Nothing you can do can change that.  I guess I sort of just accept that reality–which is crazy to say out loud because it means that–ME–the biggest control freak ever isn’t in control.

A part of me is sad that it took losing my parents to really realize that I have zero control over death.

That isn’t to say I’m fear-free.  Far from it.  I just don’t let it stop me.  I feel it plenty.  But, eventually, there’s the knowledge that my fear only means something to me.


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