I still remember that storm. It was late August. Night. I woke from my sleep and crawled towards the window, pressed my nose against the glass like I used to do as a child, hopeful and tender. Outside, the rain scattered across the streets, persistent and unafraid. Thunder cracked, and I forced myself to stay, to keep my eyes open, to watch as lightning ripped across the sky, bold and brilliant.
All my life, I’ve wished to be a storm, a force to be reckoned with.
But in that moment, my hands shook as they gripped the wooden window frame.
There were forces greater than what I’d known. And that realization kept me rooted there.
Rooted like a deer in the headlights, every cell in my body wanting to run, yet stoic and still. Like watching the accident unfold and somehow you can’t look away. Like knowing you shouldn’t do something, and doing it all the same.
When I think back to that storm, I recognize that I used to be afraid of forces bigger than my body.
A storm. Thunder. Tornadoes. Love.
All through that storm, I stood there, timid and patient. The beginnings of my fearlessness budding beneath skin.
But today, as it rains, I stand outside. I tilt my head towards the sky, let the rain kiss my cheeks.
Today, I let this Illinois storm strengthen me.
Today I am unafraid.