Texas Thunderstorms

When I was a teenager, my dentist noticed that I was grinding my teeth in my sleep. 

            “Why?” I asked him.

            “Probably stress,” he said. 

            At the time, all I could think was that he was telling me I was stressed out at the same time that he was diagnosing me with a condition that was doing permanent, continual damage to my teeth. 

“Great,” I thought.  “Tell me more things that are wrong with me.  That will cut down on my stress.”

I didn’t think I was anxious back then.  I didn’t feel like a worrier.  In fact, I was surprised by my dentist’s assessment.  I honestly thought that I was pretty carefree, despite the fact that I often struggled to fall asleep.  (When I was eleven my dad suggested that I say Hail Marys to combat my insomnia.  Gee, Dad, thanks for that sound advice.) 

Then one night, after college, I was so overcome with frustration and tension that I went around my apartment slamming doors as hard as I could.  I suppose I could have gone for a run, or bought a punching bag, but slamming those doors just felt so satisfying.

Roughly a year after my door-slamming incident, I moved to Austin.  And here I am still. 

I remember being so startled by the ferocity of the thunderstorms here.  I’ve always loved thunderstorms, and there’s nothing like a late-summer T-storm in New England, when the clouds roll in like gangbusters and the sky opens up with thunder and lightning. 

But let me tell you, the storms in Texas put them to shame.  Here, they’re just so loud, so sudden, so angry.  We don’t get much rain here in ATX, so when it storms it’s like the skies have been holding in all of their fury and their rage and their blustering, and then just poured it down on us all at once.

I guess, in a way, they’re like me.

Because when I was in high school I dealt with my stress with some teeth-grinding and trouble falling asleep.  I wasn’t outwardly expressing it, aside from through my writing.  But now, as a grown woman, I’m so painfully filled with anxiety all the time that I spend most of my life stewing inside my own head.  And once in a while, I turn into an all-out wild-and-crazy thunderstorm.  (And not in a Girls Gone Wild kind of way.)  I suppose it’s fitting that the most impressive storms I’ve ever seen have taken place in this city, at this time of my life, when my own emotions are raging out of control.

So maybe there’s a reason why I’ve always embraced thunderstorms.  Maybe it’s because I see something of myself in them.  I just wish I had a better raincoat.

3 Responses to “Texas Thunderstorms”

  • Megan Drake Sears Says:

    Oh my gosh Colleen, this is so powerful! Do you mind if I show your words toy students? I think it would help a lot of them to understand what they are feeling.

  • Colleen Conrad Says:

    I’m flattered that you ask, Megan! You’re welcome to share it. Thanks for reading!

  • Jason Conrad Says:

    Let me know when you find that raincoat…I could use one sometimes too. 🙂

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