Posted by: chptr37 | 04/21/2009

Pg. 20: Lightning Wild


The country version of “Where’s Waldo?” Can you spot the creature in the woods next door?


  • Miles Today: None of note.
  • Miles Total: 5284
  • From/To: Denial to the Realization that I’m leaving the country tomorrow.
  • Slept: Hard. Long. Deep. (Hm. Sounds more fun than it was.)
  • Soundtrack: Thunder cracking overhead and rain pelting the roof.
  • Worst Thing: Weighing my bags, and then weighing myself. I’m not sure which gained more weight in the process of crossing the country.
  • Best Thing: Finding out a friend is expecting Thing 1 (Aka, her first baby)
  • Quote of the Day: “Ooh, you’ll be flavour of the week! STranger! AND foreign!” said by my friend in Scotland about the inhabitants of my new home, who, apparently, are fond of gossip.


In Portland, it rained a lot. Like, a lot. It’s a city known for its downpours and its drizzles and its clouds and its sodden weather, its constant gray skies. Despite all that rain, the city was sorely lacking in thunder storms. We never had them. Once in a while, a low crack of thunder somewhere far away. A few drops of rain. That was all.

Driving home from family dinner tonight in the middle of downstate NY, somewhere between city and country, lightning far off. Lighting up the sky. A few more miles and we were in it, hard pelting rains that drowned the streets and killed any hopes of seeing in highways without street lights. A crack of thunder, and then, right above the car: Lighting. A wild, jagged streak that split the sky and my eyeballs, as it looked for a place to land.

I’d forgotten how much I missed storms. Watching it reminded me of that, of all the things I’d lost when I moved to the west coast. There was so much to gain, of course, and I’ve touched on those, but the losses, too, sting. Not just the food. Also, storms that crack the mind with their high voltage. Lightning bugs scattered through the night to light up a meadow. The Finger Lakes. Wild flowers and white-tailed deer in the meadow. Fields full of deciduous trees, their bare-bone branches fingering against the sky. Sugar maples, and the sweet smell of sap turning into syrup. Smelt, caught fresh from the rivers, and deep-fried in butter. Family. Friends.

The things we carry with us from place to place aren’t just the ones in our suitcase. I also carry the weight of what I’ve lost and gained, what I’ve learned and forgotten, the ones I’ve known and loved and hated and lost.

Tonight, in the storm, I got out in it, stood for a long time. Watching the sky light up and listened to the gods roll their bocce balls across the sky. I let the water rain over me, pelt me, drench me. Washing away all the places I’ve been to make room for the places I’m going. Soon, I’ll be in a new country, carrying pebbles of memories and loss and hope in my pockets, brushing my thumb along their smooth surfaces, rolling them over and over in this ongoing tumble of my life.

Far and fast, s.



Trees in various states of undress. Portland’s flora always wear their best green dress.


“Accept loss forever.” ~Jack Kerouac



  1. I was born on the east coast, raised on the west, now back on the east – and those things – good thunderstorms, lightening bugs, and bare trees are all things I missed (and snow). There are things I miss from the west coast – I miss deserts, I miss the ocean (the Atlantic does not compare to the Pacific, having lived often very close to the coast out west), I miss the wild Pacific storms. I miss the growing season. I miss proper mountains.

    It’s all a trade-off.

  2. Yes! That’s one of my favourite quotes. I had it pinned above my desk for years. At first it seemed horribly sad, but later – wonderfully liberating. See you soon xx

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