Monday, May 23, 2011

No Complaining Today

Yesterday I was getting a pedicure -- a pedicure -- when tornado sirens went off.  Tornado sirens are no stranger around these parts so I didn't freak out like the woman next to me who had just moved to Minnesota from Florida.

I texted Brian, who was home with napping children, to see what it was all about.

He replied: "Nothing.  It was just a test."

A tornado test?  On a Sunday afternoon?  Later we will be going over what exactly a tornado siren means on any other day except the first Wednesday of the month at 1:00, which is the actual day and only time for a tornado siren test.

So instead, as I sat enjoying the chair massage and getting my toes painted, I tagged down my friend, Amy, who was on top of all the tornadic action on Twitter.  She told me I would be fine.  It was all North of me.  I laid my head back and relaxed.

I knew something was different when I got in my car and the local radio station was airing live weather coverage instead of "80s, 90s and Today!"  I knew something was different when I got home and saw my Facebook and Twitter feed lit up like a Christmas tree.  I knew something was different when the news anchors on the 10 o'clock news were standing in front of television monitors instead of seated behind their desks.  I knew something was different when I caught glimpses of the first photos coming in.

And it was different.  This time, instead of hearing about and imagining tornado damage and destruction across the country, it was striking just a few miles from home.  My home.

But I think the hardest part of it all was that it struck North Minneapolis.  If it were possible to handpick a part of the Twin Cities that could best absorb and rebuild from a tornado, North Minneapolis would be last on the list.  North Minneapolis is an area littered with vacant homes that have long since been foreclosed on.  The store front windows are decorated with steel bars.  And this small area, by far, is home to the largest number of homicides in all of Minnesota.  Every metro area has one sore spot and this is ours.

When the 10 o'clock news was over I climbed the stairs of my beautiful home whose only real flaw, at the moment, was some gutters in dire need of cleaning.  I turned on the light in the bathroom because I had working electricity.  I washed my face with warm water because my hot water heater didn't have a gas leak.  I walked those newly painted toes down the hall into my bedroom and slid them between my clean, soft sheets.

I laid in bed wide awake for a long time thinking about those people on the other side of the river who woke up that very morning in a bedroom just like mine and now were sleeping in a Red Cross shelter with the rest of their neighbors.

I haven't thought of a way to help just yet.  But I think trying my best not to complain about my own life today is a good start.

I know the Minneapolis tornado destruction has been minimized by tornado stories out of Alabama and now Missouri.  But it's different when it strikes this close to home.  It just is.

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