Summer came along and one of the greatest events of the year was in store for Nolan just a couple of weeks in. Every year his family went to Mississippi to see the extended family. Nolan’s grandmother had like ten brothers and sisters. By the time all their spouses, kids and grandkids came together in one place there were over 150 people. Each family would rent out a cabin at the park and they ended up renting every cabin for just Nolan’s family; so they would have an entire state park to themselves. Fishing on the lake was all family, eating at the pavilion was all family, the giant card tournament in the meeting hall was all family and it was so fun.
Nolan didn’t know all of his cousins by name, he just knew that everyone was a cousin except the great aunts and great uncles who were easy to spot. It was safe to go anywhere and Nolan could run with a pack of kids that weren’t going to hurt him and it was a lot of fun. Being around a big family was like being popular. There was no time during Nolan’s year that was better than family reunion time. People treated him like a regular person for a whole week, it was like heaven.
This year the family had decided to make a major adjustment. They would move the whole event to the coast! Nolan had never seen the ocean before and he was excited to hear that they were going to have family reunion at the beach. He didn’t know the differences in the quality of beaches yet, the Mississippi coast would soon become his baseline memory for what a beach looks like. Many of the people at school and Nolan’s local family went to Florida every year and they loved the beach. It was a little weird to Nolan when his aunt and uncle complained about going to the Mississippi beach.
When it came time to pack the car and head down Nolan’s dad was telling him that they may have to come back early. There was a storm off the coast that might make landfall Friday. They were only supposed to stay until Saturday anyway so if the storm came they would just leave a day early. Nolan had heard of hurricanes in school but he really didn’t know much about it. His dad said it was like the kind of storms that cause tornados except way bigger. Nolan thought back to the time the tornado came really close to the house a couple of years before. His mom opened all the windows and Nolan could feel the wind and watched the sky turn green. He stood looking at it until his mom made him hide in the bathroom. He and his mom and sister gathered about 6 pillows and got into the bath tub. They put the pillows on top of them in case the roof caved in and they waited.
In the tub Nolan’s mom told the storm not to hurt them and asked God to protect them. The storm passed by without causing any problem but it hit hard a few miles down the road. As soon as they were out of the tub, Nolan went outside to watch the storm some more. There was this amazing feeling in a major storm, he didn’t really understand but he loved that feeling. He felt alive when he was right in the middle of it. The sky would be black with clouds and the the lighting was the only light. When you got close to the center you saw those green and purple colors coming out of the middle of the storm. It sent a surge through Nolan like he was made to stand in the middle of storms. He felt powerful while the rest of the world was running and hiding in bath tubs.