Storm Birds

I’m told it’s because I’m a human barometer. I’m told that there’s something peculiar with my head which means every time a thunderstorm builds I react to the pressure and end up almost crippled by a migraine. If the storm moves in fast then all well and good, but if it builds, and here they can take days to break, then I will be almost unable to function. Every noise becomes like an explosion on raw nerves and thinking becomes an impossible task. In the beginning Zah was concerned, then he became frustrated with my acceptance of it. At his insistence I tried every pill and potion. The pharmaceuticals didn’t touch it unless I used dangerously high doses and the natural remedies were just as bad. One thing helped a little. Neat lavender oil in the ears then pinch the nose and swallow. But it for the big storms nothing seemed to touch the pain. In the end he saw my acceptance as just that. The acceptance that it would pass and that there was nothing really to be done. But still, him being him, he didn’t have to like the situation.

Two things gave me comfort when it happened. The first was that as soon as Zah knew a storm was coming he would let me be quiet. There was never any fuss or emergency that he would have to bother me with. I would be left to potter until it broke. The dogs would be chased from the house incase they barked, the television and the radio silenced. He would even try to hammer quietly if he was in the forge or the workshop. No power tools, no noise at all. Every hour on the hour he would quietly walk in to where I was, kiss me on the forehead, and leaving a glass of iced chamomile tea walk away without a word. Even if he saw me trying to write he would just be sure I was wearing my glasses and if not they would be placed quietly on top of my typing fingers without needing to say a word. The second was that as soon as the storm broke the pain would clear immediately. As the atmosphere released all the energy it had been storing, my head would release it’s own and for a short while I would feel euphoric. It was wonderful. No pain, no sensitivity, just a sensation of perfect clarity. At the sound of the first rain drop I would leave whatever I was doing to walk outside and just stand in the deluge that accompanied the light show. Standing, laughing like a little kid, I would watch the purple-black sky being torn apart by flashes of light that were mirrored by the ocean, and I’m told I dance unconsciously to the thunder crashes.

Zah became acutely aware of one of my more peculiar peculiarities the first time we had a spring shower. As the rain began to fall he raced for shelter in the workshop then howled with laughter as I just stood there, face up, being drenched by the deluge. As clothes became completely sodden they were discarded. Of course it helped we were miles from anyone when I divested my now sodden garments; but to feel the pulse of those drops on my skin, to stand naked, eyes closed, arms out, and just feel the beating of water with me as the drum skin was something that in the beginning he didn’t understand. For me it was the one thing I hadn’t been able to do since I was a teenager on the Ridgeway, and as an adult I was reclaiming my greatest connection to the universe. Still, I’m sure I looked ridiculous standing in the mud, naked and grinning, with my eyes closed. There are some things that are truly sacred, and for me rain was one of them. After about ten minutes my beloved decided enough was enough and joined me. Eyebrow raised, grin from ear to ear, and naked as the day he was born, he looked at me in an amused fashion and asked if this was something the English did regularly.

But while rainstorms would see me naked and smiling thunderstorms were different. To try to explain the difference is difficult but it’s similar to what you experience standing in an empty church and an empty cathedral. While both are sacred in a church it feels intimate and there’s a kind of localised connection between space and spirit. With a cathedral there’s an enormity and a power which you’re forced to meet very differently. So it is with thunderstorms. For me they are the cathedrals that I have to suffer through pain to reach and when we connect it’s to the entirety of my spirit.

On one particular occasion Zah became extremely worried. The storm had been brewing for days and I was barely able to move. He tried lavender oil in the ears, compresses on my forehead, but by the fourth day I was curled in a foetal position when I wasn’t puking. He sat for hours on the edge of the bed stroking my head and quietly promising me that it would be over soon. When it wasn’t he disappeared for an afternoon and came back with a curious look on his face. For two more days the storm build kept up. Occasionally the pressure would drop slightly which meant I could function enough to move and do some of the little essentials that humans need to but that was about it. My heart broke seeing him worry but there was nothing to be done and in between retches I assured him that once it broke I’d be fine.

Of course it did break, eventually, and with the first raindrop I found my love taking my hand and helping me out into the garden. Normally he would watch me quietly from the doorway but this time he led me through the plummeting air pressure and heavy raindrops down to the beach. There he’d constructed a  wooden shelter in the sand and inside were blankets, water, some tobacco, and a long tin box. “I want to be part of this, eh?” was all he said.

So we sat quietly watching the boiling storm and smiling at the flashes that lit up our bay. In the semi-darkness of that afternoon Zah rolled, then lit a cigarette and after a couple of puffs handed it to me. I felt an arm slide across my shoulder and I was pulled in to the fragrant shoulder of my love where I sat smiling and watching the universe explode before my eyes. I felt safe, I felt sacred, I felt love.

After an hour or so Zah reached over and began to produce rockets from the tin box. Each one was lit using a cigarette and produced purple and green, and red, and blue starbursts that wove themselves into the tapestry of lightening strikes until both the rockets and the sky were exhausted. For the rest of the night we sat in our shelter cuddling and listening to the sound of rain until it was time to dance naked and celebrate more earthly devotions.

From that day on, whenever I felt the migraine begin, I was able to smile. No matter how bad the pain, no matter how much or how long I suffered, I knew that in the end my love and I would end up cuddling in a shelter and then dancing naked in the rain. To me the pain became worth the suffering because of the sacredness we shared with the universe and with each other at the end of it. It was a blessing to become part of nature’s raw emotion and a gratitude to have someone to share it with as deeply as I felt it.

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