We had lightning in New York. But it wasn’t something you ever thought about, because in New York you were never the tallest thing around.
In New Mexico it’s entirely possible to be the tallest thing around, even if, like me, you’re just a scooch under five-foot-five. Doubly so if you live in Eldorado, which is about as flat as anything in the Santa Fe area ever gets.
So I’ve gotten up closer and more personal with lightning this past couple years than I ever did in the first thirty-eight of my life.
Last year during that psycho wrath-of-God monsoon, I was driving home in a panic (for one thing, I’d left all the windows open in my house, and for another, it was raining so hard I couldn’t see Old Las Vegas Highway beneath my balding tires), when, just a half mile or so from home, a bolt of the stuff went zapping, Hollywood blockbuster style, right across the road in front of my official-car-of-Santa-Fe Subaru.
Bright white and jagged, it stitched the air like an angry child’s pen across construction paper, nearly horizontal, no higher than the hood of my SUV. An innocent bush just feet from my front tires disappeared into angry smoke. Moses, I thought, I think I get the astonishment you must have felt. But I was more interested in getting the hell out of Dodge right then than hearing the word of the lord.
I drove home, mopped up the puddles, and smiled to myself at my first true monsoon moment.
This year, I’ve been aching for the rains as do all of us who live here, watching the weather reports, thirsting for something to tamp down the dust and let us know life will be sustainable in the high desert just a little while longer. And last night, as I drove home from the house of a friend in the true darkness you never, ever get to experience in Manhattan, I found myself all alone and electrified as countless flashes illuminated the sky. Again, again, again, while thunder rent the heavens and the wind whipped in all directions. Again, high in the clouds, low on the horizon, seemingly from every corner of the firmament, the sky alight and full of unimaginable force.
I rolled the windows down, smelling ozone, smelling life, and knew again why I moved here.