Last night I dreamt about tornados. I was staying in communal housing that might have been an Outward Bound base camp. People were out in the yard hanging out when someone pointed into a late afternoon sky tinged with orange and capped off by dark, and ominous clouds. The wind was picking up, and we watched as a funnel cloud descended to the ground. It seemed to me that the tornado was too close for comfort, and I began to make my way back towards the house, hoping others would follow my lead. As I headed that way, I watched another tornado snake down from the clouds on the opposite side of the house, and this one looked to be moving towards us at a speed I did not think possible. My mind was racing with thoughts of where to go within the ramshackle house and I began urging the others to get inside. I felt my forward momentum come to a halt and then the wind began sucking me back from where I wanted to go. It was then that I awoke.
I don’t know why, but I often dream about tornados. They have been a part of my life since an early age. At the first house I lived in on Coronado Street in Huntsville, Alabama, I remember looking out the front door while a tornado was in the area. I saw the pale green in the sky and the wind whipping small trees in our front yard back and forth violently. When I was in high school, my father’s office complex was nearly hit by a tornado. The glass from a picture window came flying down a hallway, and he quickly shut a door to avoid getting hit by the pieces. The first time Mary came to visit me in Alabama, we went to a party in Birmingham and ended up huddled in a basement, her with a look of fear and incomprehension on her face. You don’t have to do many tornado drills when you grow up in Philadelphia. In the Bahamas, I watched a waterspout cross the harbor of Great Exuma and spin sailboats around their anchor lines like tops. Driving through southern Tennessee on the way to Bonnaroo several years ago, tornados were in sight ahead of us and just off the interstate. It feels like tornados and I have a strange attraction to one another.
We are all tornados, moving across our landscapes, picking up ideas, people, emotions, and things. We swirl them around, rearrange them to meet our liking, and then toss them aside again when we are done with them, forever changed. We are creation and destruction happening simultaneously, spontaneously, and with inescapable impacts.
Adapted from journal entries on 6.28.12 and 10.17.16