A lot of people forget this, but I'm not actually a Georgia girl. I'm an Oklahoma girl. Born in Stillwater, home of the Cowboys, I spent the first few years of my life in a split-level home on West Admiral, across the street from wheat fields as far as my young eyes could see. Some evenings, my dad took me on walks in those fields, and I could smell the manure all around me. Manure is a smell you get used to, when you grow up near farmland.
After a while, we moved to 301 South Orchard. My mom bought it while my dad was on a business trip. Upon arriving home, he learned that he had to start packing because we were moving out of the split-level and into a two-story. It was the finest house in the world, as far as I was concerned. Just a few blocks away was the elementary school, which gave my siblings and me easy access to two wonderful playgrounds. The front playground was good for the sandbox, and the back playground was good for the slides, foursquare, and the back stop. It was at this elementary school that I learned about the Oklahoma Land Rush and the Trail of Tears. I learned how to correctly pronounce Iroquois, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Pawnee. I made dream catchers with my friends and looked for arrowheads in the dirt.
By far, by far, by far -- the thing I remember most vividly about my home state is the way the sky looks and feels and smells just before a tornado. It is still and quiet, and the atmosphere has an eery green tint. You go outside to marvel at the calm that envelopes everything, but even before the sirens sound, you know what's coming.
Nearly everyone in Oklahoma has a cellar. Though not even close to being a full basement, they're large enough to store cans of dry food and about a dozen standing people who are hiding from a bad storm. Going into the cellar always made me scared, but it was also a bit thrilling. I remember sometimes wishing the sirens would signal a tornado, so we would have to go down there.
Now that I'm older, I'm grateful my family only had to use the cellar a few times. What a wonder tornadoes are. What a frightening, familiar wonder.
Thing I'm thankful for: my safety