29 April 2011
(Image courtesy of me and the Tiny Planet app.)
Wednesday night was a bad night.
Understatement, I know.
You all know about my anxiety issues. Death, am I a good enough mother/wife/friend/yadda-yadda, EVERYTHING. Wednesday night, I had a triple-play going on. I was convinced that our deaths were imminent because of the horrifying radar images I couldn't turn away from. Top that off with my impending dulcimer performance this coming Sunday and my four-hour drive to Albany, Georgia Thursday morning, and I was in full-on Give me a hug, now, Ty-man or I'm gonna find me a 24-hour Xanax drive-thru.
We were damned lucky that we sustained absolutely no damage during the night. It was eerie. Even as the sirens went off (FOUR TIMES!), there was barely any wind, no rain, and minimal lightning. Our only loss was sleep. And so it was, with four hours of sleep, dulcimer loaded into the Corvette, that I headed four hours south to Albany, Georgia, home of the Westover Comprehensive High School Patriots.
Westover High's Academic Decathlon team took home the medium-sized school champion trophy for the Georgia state competition, which qualified them to participate in the National Decathlon on-line competition yesterday and today. And that means I was arrowing south to make sure their testing occurred by the rules, smoothly, with no hiccups.
I was not happy. I was still on edge from the night before, reeling from the images I had seen, upon waking up, of Tuscaloosa and Ringgold. I wondered what I would see on my trip south, if I would encounter any debris. Thirty-five miles north of Macon, I found it. A swath of trees on both sides of I-75 had been chewed by the storms. I could smell the pine sap even through the car's air vents. I was not pleased.
The further I traveled, the darker the skies while severe storm warnings played out on the radio.
Several times, I thought about turning around. But that wouldn't have been fair to those nine students at Westover who had been studying so very hard since August to have this chance to compete on a national level.
I got there an hour early and took a deep, cleansing breath. Everything was set up for me, I didn't have to stress, I had avoided the worst of the early-morning storms, and there was no need for my anxiety. The kids did beautifully, the Internet stayed up, and testing went like clockwork. Compared to the night before, Thursday was a dream. As I sat in my chair, watching the Westover decathletes, I smiled. These nine decathletes had made me laugh several times with their wry humor and teenage angst. It made me wish for one day back at South Charleston High School, to smell the halls and hear the familiar voices of friends and acquaintances. It's these fleeting moments, found each year with Georgia decathletes, that I see that glimmer of hope for the future. They DO have purpose, hopes, dreams, and ambitions, just like all of us at that age. They aren't those pesky teenagers, they're people, and being around them reminds me of this. Being around youth is keeping me young and it was a panacea in the face of Wednesday night's destruction and death.
I took those warm, fuzzy happys back to my hotel and played my dulcimer like nobody's business. Only one more hurdle this week and it's seeming less and less intimidating. I'll make it yet. Won't we all?