Sunday, August 26, 2012

Before the storm

The first and only time I've ever had a sunburn was when I was nine years old. My dad bought tickets for my mom and I to go to a concert series put on by KIIS FM 102.7 called Wango Tango. The concert featured big names of 2002, including Michelle Branch, Vanessa Carlton and the act I was most interested in seeing (are you ready to cringe?), Aaron Carter.

When we arrived at the Rose Bowl before noon, there was a small fair going on outside the actual concert venue. For hours we wandered around in the blazing sun that summer afternoon, and by the next day I had red shoulders that hurt miserably and would soon start peeling and reminding me why I really dislike spending time in the sun.

Since that day, I've marveled at my inability to get sunburns, but I've also constantly avoided being exposed to extreme changes in the elements. Take me to Florida, and I spend most of the time indoors. Take me to Disneyland, and my favorite attractions are those which involve sitting down indoors and drawing animated characters. I am a low key kind of person who enjoys low key weather.

It was an unusual transition, since in those years before my first sunburn, I really didn't pay much attention to what was going on outside my window. I never wore sunscreen, never shielded my head from the rain, never worried about wind or any kind of extreme temperature change.

I used to love running around in the rain. When the water was pouring, I'd go outside in a hoodie or with an umbrella and pretend I was dancing like Gene Kelly even before I'd heard of the movie Singin' in the Rain.

A few years later, I became someone who preferred to watch from indoors. I would hang out by my window and maybe open it to feel the raindrops splatter lightly on my windowsill, but aside from that I wanted to keep away from the storm.

Now I'm in Florida and there's a hurricane a-coming (Stand fast! Secure the riggings! [Make The Little Mermaid references that no one will comprehend!]). My dad and I had the choice of either staying here and weathering the storm or leaving just in the nick of time.

This morning we decided to leave, and with that decision made I'm starting to consider what it would've been like to actually live through a hurricane.

I've arrived at an airport in Florida at the tail end of a hurricane, but I've never sat around in a house during one of them. In fact, I've never sat through any scary potential natural disasters. Perhaps Snowpocalypse 2011 in Chicago could be considered a scary proposition, but my friends and I waded through a foot of snow on the evening of the worst storm just to get to the dining hall across the street. We were not hindered by the weather by any measure.

Living in California in general has ruined any ability I might have to stand extreme weather conditions. Two years ago when I got to this state in time for the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Orlando Resort, 15 minutes in the heat had me reeling with heat rash and hallucinations. When the thunderstorms began, topping off the 100 percent humidity with 100 degree temperatures, I did not think I could recover.

But looking back on that experience, and even Wango Tango 2002, I realize that the most powerful imagery in my head is not of wiping the sweat off my forehead or putting my hair up in a wet ponytail. It's getting to experience some of the most interesting events of my life.

So what if I hung out in Florida through this hurricane? I wonder. Would the power have gone out? Would I have gone crazy from lack of television, internet, microwave, etc.? Or would I have made the best out of it and counted it among my most interesting memories with my grandparents? I guess the world will never know.

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