Oh, my gosh, Lala will kill me if I don’t share this story with you. She keeps saying "You haven’t blogged that yet! Blog it!"
The other day, I went out for a run with my dog, Clara. We drove to Alameda, and my plan was to run from the dog park down to the beach and along the shore, then come back and let the dog run off-leash to get rid of the rest of her energy. But while I was driving in that direction, the sky got dark. And then darker.
Then it started to rain. I thought, I’m hardcore. I can handle this. I pulled into the parking lot and stared into the almost-empty dog park. It started to POUR.
Then, as I was about to get out of the car, it started to hail. Hard. I got out my phone and started texting a complaint to Lala. "It’s hailing. I don’t want to go. Wahhh."
But before I hit send, something happened. I heard a noise that wasn’t even noise — it was louder than anything I’d ever heard, but it didn’t feel like my definition of Loud. It just was. There was light, but it wasn’t like light. I felt weird and completely stuck. While it was happening, I couldn’t move, and it wasn’t fear, I just couldn’t make my muscles work.
The parking lot I was sitting in was HIT BY LIGHTNING! The same parking lot I would have been running through if I hadn’t been sending my whiny text to Lala.
I thought my car had been hit, at first. Or that I had. I knew exactly what it was, even though it didn’t sound or look like any lighting I’d ever heard or seen. I didn’t know if I’d been hit. Was I burned and just didn’t know it yet? I hadn’t breathed yet, and I remember making the conscious decision to take a breath and see if it hurt. I did, and it didn’t.
I turned around to look at Clara, and we reacted to each other in the same way. We looked at each other blankly, calmly, and then both of us started to shake uncontrollably. I scrambled through the station wagon into the back seat. I have a dog-fence blocking the back of the station-wagon from the back seat. I stuck my arms through the fence and clutched her and she leaned back into my arms and we both stared out the back window, petrified.
In a few seconds, I heard shouts. The three men in the dog park had grabbed their dogs that had originally bolted in fear and were running for their cars. They must have been even more scared than I was — they were out in the open. All the lights in the park and its outbuilding were suddenly on and strangest of all, all the park sprinklers started shooting water straight up into the air, into the pouring rain. Maybe they were on an electric timer?
I started to grab the umbrella — the UMBRELLA — in the car to get out and then I realized that was probably pretty stupid, so I just jittered myself out the back passenger-side door and babbled in their direction.
I knew one of the men in the park, even though he doesn’t know me. He’s a local crazy* that I spoke to on a regular basis when I worked police dispatch, and he started yelling at me and the other two guys: "Who has a cell phone? Don’t use your cell! Don’t touch it! The lightning affects the transformers, and they’ll hear us! It’s just the government! Don’t run, and don’t use any phones!"
The other two guys babbled with me as we all just stood there, trying to figure out what the hell we should do, which was, basically, nothing. We just got back in our cars and drove away. What else SHOULD we have done? No one was hurt, we were just FREAKED OUT.
And dude, I SO didn’t run. Nope. That was god’s way of saying go home and make pumpkin muffins, yams with chipotle dip, spinach/kale turnovers, and tomato soup. Wow. I just realized I did that the same day. I was nesting a bit, wasn’t I? Interesting. I was kind of manic about the cooking, actually. Ask Lala. I was throwing ingredients into the air and catching them wildly (and badly — don’t EVER substitute steel-cut oatmeal for Quaker oatmeal — dude, it’s like throwing uncooked rice into finished muffins. I had to throw out the whole batch).
There. That is my lightning story. I would like it to be the closest I ever get to lightning in my life.
*The same local guy, we’ll call him Steve, was once behind me in the 7-Eleven line. I gave the checker a twenty, he put it in the till, and then gave me change on a ten. We started to argue about it, but then Steve stepped forward and boomed, "The lady GAVE you a TWENTY, give her CHANGE!" The checker did indeed give me the correct change. So I have fond feelings toward Steve.
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