As a child, I found no love among a winter snow. The sunshine never warmed me on a hot summer day. The closest I ever got to love was in the darkest light: the violent, crackling of a thunderstorm.
At my house, I had to live by some rules. One hard and fast set of rules was the proper behavior during a thunderstorm. Rule Number One: the entire family must gather on the living room couch for the duration of the storm, turn off the lights, and sit in the dark if necessary.
The couch looked rather ordinary. It was a brown couch slipcovered in a green, white, and brown flower patterned fabric. Just by looking at, the powers of this couch were not apparent.
The occupants of the couch were my mother, grandparents, and myself. We weren’t a close-knit family. Actually we were rather distant from each other in our day-to-day lives.
Rule Number Two: don’t move. It was as if some unseen static or spark that we may create by just our movement would attract a lightening strike directly onto the couch.
The couch became a shelter, self-contained from the rest of the storminess that surrounded us. It kept us away from the dangers outside, the lightening couldn’t touch us as long as we sat quietly, listened, and watched the violence through the large picture window set right in front of this couch.
The window in this room was eight foot wide and at least three foot high, the ultimate large screen before its time. The views out of this window, especially during a thunderstorm, were superior to what we found on our small black and white television set. The drapes across this window were drawn shut, affording us an even greater amount of protection from the fierce elements of nature.
That extra few millimeters of drapery fabric drawn across the window did nothing to detract from the show. It muffled none of the thunderclaps. The lightening bolts broke through and illuminated the room as if the protection wasn’t there.
We heard the rolling thunder in the distance. Nature’s electrical light show changed the actual smell of the air. It came closer bringing intense light along with a quick, hard crash of thunder. The window rattled. Sometimes a nearby tree, cracked in half, became its victim.
On the couch, I caught a smile from my usually withdrawn and stern grandparents. It was as if arms almost held me.
Safe on our upholstered vessel, we rode out the storm. While sitting on the couch, I may have heard someone say, I love you. But the thunder drowned out words.
I love thunderstorms and respect them. I would never think of talking on the telephone or holding a metallic baking pan while the storm is in full force. That would be breaking the rules. I would never be so foolish as to take a shower in the middle of a storm since everyone knows that electricity and water don’t mix. Some chances I refuse to take.
Although, today I actually walk from room to room in the house when a storm moves through my neighborhood. I even watch TV. I have been known to turn on the lights or talk to my husband as we sit on different pieces of furniture. I have discovered a society that exists off the couch that provides a less hostile source of light.