by Abby Gray

Pitter patter, pitter patter, pitter patter.

Rain began to tumble onto our little blue tent. I watched it roll down the triangular sides of the place I was supposed to be sleeping. I was sure I was the only one awake. Until pitter patter turned into plip plop, plip plop, and finally to a loud swoosh that rang the warning of a collection of pouring rain, high speed winds and the fact that there was no way we were gonna spend the night in this tent.

Luckily, we had been camping with our friends, the Hinks, who were sleeping in a trailer. We picked up our things, abandoned our tent, and ran to safety in their clunky metal box. They adjusted sleeping arrangements, and in no time there my eight-year old self was, sandwiched between mom and dad on a mattress definitely meant for only two.

At this point in my story is a good time to mention that until maybe sixth grade, I was deathly afraid of thunderstorms. When I say deathly I mean, the first crack of thunder and I was crying, dragging my family to the basement for shelter and safety. I was certain that a bolt of lightening meant we were all doomed and had a very slim chance of making it out of the storm that was coming alive.

So with that information, you can imagine how I felt when a bolt of lightning struck a tree just 3 or so yards from the small rickety metal trailer my tiny self was curled up in, fingers stuck in my ears, face pressed against my dad’s chest. If I would have known then what I know now, that my dad himself (the bravest man of all time to me at eight-years old) was actually scared too after that lightening strike and earsplitting thunder that shot through our trailer and shook our bed, it would have been disastrous. But with my mom and dad on either side of me, who I thought were enough protection to keep our trailer from being struck by lightning, I made it through that dreadful night and woke up alright.

My dad always jokes that every time he heard the first roar of thunder in a storm, a plunk of me hoping out of bed and pit pat pit pat of me running down our wooden stairs undoubtedly followed. I spent many stormy nights of my childhood snuggled up in my parents bed.

Just the other night, I was in my room getting ready for bed. I heard a storm creeping up in the distance. Now a days, I handle thunderstorms like any normal human. In fact, I enjoy falling asleep to the sound of a gentle storm, but that night, I was a little sentimental. My senior year had just started, I was close to being 18-years-old, and I remembered that night in the trailer ten years earlier.

Once I go to college, there will be no getting in my parents bed because of a storm, among a number of other things which flooded my mind in that moment. My dad would never set out all the cereals and have each of them say, “pick me, pick me!” and boo for all the cereals that didn’t get chosen after I picked my breakfast. I wouldn’t come home to my little shih tzu Dusty staring up at me with puppy dog eyes every day after school. My mom wouldn’t take me out to lunch on a Friday day to talk. Even the things that haven’t happened in years, like childhood birthday parties with cute themes or sitting on in the living room watching our ABC Family shows every Wednesday. 18 means my childhood is over. And there’s something very bittersweet about that. So as the thunder got closer to Upper Arlington, I picked up an old stuffed animal, and pit pat pit patted down the stairs to my parents bedroom.