I don’t know exactly when I started storm chasing.
High school pretty much I guess. Though it was unintentional then. We were all idiots.
Doing what we thought the girls liked.
Definitely not in college. I could just enjoy the rain in college.
It wasn’t even when I saw my first one. First one I remember anyway.
(I’m told all about that hurricane we hid from at the school but I don’t remember it.)
Was maybe eight or nine years old.
Packed up my sports medals
the only possessions worth saving I figured at the time into a small leather bag.
Looked out the window on the way to the basement and saw that green.
Skies aren’t supposed to be green. Everybody knows that. But there it was.
That’ll get your little butt downstairs alright.
I didn’t start chasing then either. Much too scared.
So about this one I’ve been onto for a while.
Just parades up and down the Plains in front of us all. Likes the attention.
Likes to be in the thick of it amongst all the others.
Making sure it gets compared real close to the rest of ‘em.
Is big, sure. But that’s not the curious part. That’s not why I’m still around.
This one’s got a mind you see.
We know it’s not possible, my team, all the experts around here, but this same storm keeps showin’ up. We know it’s not possible but we also know our machines ain’t broke. Our data is good. All the science we’ve studied and put into practice to keep our people safe—it’s solid. This is the same damn storm. Just shows up as it pleases. Taking what it likes.
The boys up in Tulsa took to callin’ it “The Bear” but I think that’s stupid.
(Says one of their boys has a bow and arrow with that name on it and this guy up there swears this storm is selective like that. Picking out places to show up to on purpose. Picking out certain people like that.) This thing don’t get a name. It wants one too bad. I won’t give it that much. Has already taken too much of my time. It’s beautiful though. That’s one thing I’ll give it.
It’s lightning ain’t normal either. Hotter than it’s supposed to be. Prettier than you can imagine. But I ain’t just one of those amateurs pullin’ over on the side of the field to gawk. So it’s pretty lightning just fills me with anger for the folks I know will get hurt. Everybody’s too blinded by beauty. Will burn you one way or another.
The folks who survive this one, and plenty do, don’t come out the same. They’ve been through it you know. Grown up with these mean things. But this damn storm…leaves ‘em scarred in a different kinda way. It’s got that mind remember.
It’ll take their roof and watch ‘em down there. Cowering, frightened, fighting, in love, whatever is goin’ on inside, it’ll just watch. So these people already feel real violated. No walls, no roof leaves you exposed in a lot of ways. It’ll break some piece of their grandmother’s china, something irreplaceable like that and leave a big mirror right next to it perfectly intact. The rain will even wash it cleaner than they’ve ever seen. You see it leaves that mirror so they have to see themselves once it’s all over. Covered in dirt, scratches, sweat, fear. And it’s August you know, when it likes to come around, so on top of everything it’s so hot for these folks you can’t even breathe.
It lets most of ‘em survive but knows how to hurt ‘em worse than dyin’. Now they gotta keep walkin’ around with this thing in their heads. This storm that blew a book open to a certain page and just layed it by their bedside. Whatever page would hurt them the most, full of emotion or secret meaning. That storm will do that to these people, and they just come out the next day sleepwalkin’. It ain’t right.
A lot of people don’t know this but we’ve got the science to see how storms have been related to each other over time. Like a kind of family tree of chaos right. So we know this storm with all its darkness and gray and dark green. I didn’t tell you that. This one turns a color that almost looks like a navy blue or something close to it, but we’ve been able to track it as a dark green. Not the usual light green, this mind it thinks it has is so inflated, it shows a little dark green. Anyway, some of these storms are actually related and we know this one has roots to the 1900 storm that took out Galveston, Texas…has got the mark of the Gulf Coast. That was a hurricane. Plenty of people call this one a tornado. But again, our data is solid. And again, I ain’t givin’ it a name.
It just takes and takes and worse thing is how you can’t get it out of your head. It runs around like it’s one of the good ones…how it doesn’t kill everyone it meets. But anything that storm does is for its own self and will make your own broken-down house feel like your own damn fault. If it could send a condolence card the next day I’m pretty sure it would. Look a woman right in the face and ask how she liked the story it left out for her. Is that kind of character. One of the worst kinds. Cause it’ll be back and act just how you remembered, no matter you’ve seen it before. It ain’t runnin’ out of ways to take.
You can call me as crazy as you like but I know this thing sees me as a worthy adversary. Taunting me by touching every house around mine and leaving my own; leaving things for me that will stick in my mind—it needs to be hunted as bad as I need to chase. But I’m no bear tamer. You’ve seen those old photos from the circus. What were they, Russian? German? I don’t know maybe we all did it, treatin’ those bears like little poodle dogs. No way. A bear’s a bear. Let it go on thinkin’ I’ve got an equal head for manipulation. I’ve got an equal head to be sure. But it doesn’t get to take that. Let it keep tryin’. I’m one hell of a storm myself.
So it keeps runnin’ and I’ll keep chasin’.
For a time anyway.
One of these days my mind’ll get right again. I hope.
Or maybe I don’t.
Dispatch from the North Texas Storm Society