my mother grew up everywhere. in denmark. on the farm in mississippi. in memphis. in michigan.
due to this nomadicness, her earliest memories- as she relates them- always have a trippy, gothic, grimm's feel. it is unbearably hot or unspeakably cold. she's wearing twenty-five layers or none. she's in a one room apartment with her parents or abandoned on a farm. they are either impoverished or rolling in dough. it is almost always the end of the world. but then it never is.
one of my mum's biggest memories is of being a child on the farm in mississippi during tupelo's worst tornado. she vividly remembers the smell of the storm cellar. the other kids. the adults watching the funnel from the ramparts. the chattering. the wind. the thought that she would be orphaned. the very great fear.
all of which is very interesting because it took place seventeen years before my mother was born. something she pieced together recently, at which point this tornado- the worst in tupelo's history- began cropping up everywhere we look.
and of all the times i've heard this story- a story that wound its way up to memphis to be repeated as a cautionary tale during every storm in little girl oline's elementary years and a story that thoroughly undermined my faith in the science book that i nonetheless gripped ever tighter to my head as it was my only means of protection while i sat crouched on my knees, face pressed against the cafeteria's concrete walls, waiting out the wind- this storm has never sounded as scary as it does here, at the hand of good old elaine dundy:
and clearly, clearly a 100-page textbook is going to be of tremendous protective value in an event where the wind forces are such that cows are dehorned.