I saw my first bolt of lightening last night.
As an Oregonian, I am no stranger to rain storms, but I can count on one hand the times I've seen thunder and lightening.
When the clouds gathered over our heads as we were eating dinner on the patio, Grandma asked me if I'd ever seen a storm. "Sure", I said confidently, fondly remembering sitting around the lake at camp with friends to watch a storm that followed a record-breaking heat wave. We all sat on fallen logs and watched the lake light up from lightening that was miles and miles away. Nothing like the power of the infamous southern storms Matt had told me about though.
Later that night, a fuzzy, gray screen and loud beeping interrupted our movie as the words "Severe Thunderstorm Watch" scrolled across the screen. Still in our swim suits from an afternoon in the pool, Matt and I took glasses of sweet tea outside and sat on the steps of the porch, watching dark clouds creep closer to the house. The hype of finally experiencing a southern storm had me imagining zig zag lightening bolts flashing from a pitch black sky, like I'd seen in any cartoon. As the wind picked up, my mind wandered to extremes, questioning the likelihood that we would be able to wheel a portable hospital bed, six people and around ten animals into the closet if this storm turned tornadic.
The storm was still miles away, so we couldn't see more than a dull flash now and then, not much brighter than a changing TV screen. I started losing interest once the sky cleared up above our heads; the storm had stopped moving forward. The muggy, hot air at 10pm had melted the ice in my drink and just as I rose to go inside, I saw a scribble of yellow light tear across the sky. I sat back down on the brick, giving the storm my undivided attention. It was still about twenty miles away so we couldn't hear the deafening thunder Matt promised, but the clouds lit up frequently.
Not more than a minute went by and my jaw dropped open as lightening spread across the sky in the brightest flash of the night. It spread out quickly and resembled roots of a tree. It seemed like it took up the entire sky. Every branch of it so vivid, so defined.
Matt holds back laughter every time I gush about my love for the south. Compared to the trailer park in rural northern Alabama he grew up in, visiting the middle class, suburban city his family moved to recently is practically tourism to him. But to me, the south is the south. And no matter what part of the south you live in, a storm is a storm.
We hadn't spoken for a few minutes after that last flash, but the rain was moving in so we stood up to head back inside. My eyebrows were still raised from the epic and powerful sight we'd seen. Without taking his eyes off the sky, Matt folded his arms across his chest, leaned towards me and with a smirk said, "that-was nothin'".