Thursday, April 5, 2012


In Iowa it was always a test. Tornados came through every so often, but never when I was home. Coming back from Greece one summer I retrieved my messages and spent a minute deleting the automated warnings and all-clears. A friend decided to rent a house where the garage had been damaged by some previous storm and she had to steer her silver Toyota around the fallen cinderblocks. And starting early every spring the test sirens went off regularly, but it was always a test.

Not so in Texas. In Texas I have reason to debate whether to shelter in a closet or the bathtub. In Texas I have the word "sheltering," which for all my midwest summers had never found its way into my lexicon of things that happen in the world. In Texas the local NPR station switches to continuous storm coverage, interrupted periodically by national news spots, though for the next few hours we are the national news. In Texas I learn the word "tornadic"-- as in tornadic activity, tornadic winds, tornadic conditions--because for a while the tornado modifies everything.

The upstairs neighbors once mentioned that before we moved in, they opened the unlocked door and sheltered in our unit. I found that comforting when they mentioned it. I found it comforting, too, as I sat in a bathtub full of pillows, listening to the radio, and listening for their knock on the door.

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