Most children's first words range from primal grunts to sweet mumblings that resemble human names, but my first word was "thunder." From the very beginning, I have been captivated with the sky and its ever-changing canvas of blues and grays, creams and milky whites. I am tuned into the rhythms of rainfall, the dance of snowflakes and the flutter of clouds across the sky. One can always find me gazing out my window hoping that the storms most people dread actually come my way. I remember setting up my own storm-viewing station in the garage the year Connecticut was in the direct path of Hurricane Bob. The weather channel became "my program," and I was a third-grader mesmerized by weather forecasts and terminology. A few years later, in the middle of a blizzard, I remember running wildly up the stairs to tell my parents we were in an "upper level low." Since then, both my vocabulary and interest have matured, but I still have my dog-eared cloud chart by my bed.
After so many years of standing guard at the window, straining to hear the low roars crawl through the sky, I am struck by the many ways I am a thunderstorm. Contrary to what this may seem to suggest, I am neither volatile nor explosive. Rather, I am a presence that others can sense, always ready to contribute my thoughts. I am told I have a passion for living because I am always the one who laughs the hardest and enjoys each moment. I am exceedingly strong-willed and independent, not afraid to express opinions or open my heart. I feel most alive when engaged in conversations that require persuasion or debate, and most powerful when others challenge me. And, while I fight to support my beliefs with the ferocity of an unrelenting storm, my winds of dissent quell easily when I encounter clear and reasoned counterpoints. My love of learning has grown recently; I entered high school an average student, but am leaving a serious scholar.
While thunder and I are alike in many ways, we have our differences, too. Thunder tends to strike suddenly with bombastic blasts, then dissipate and stop as abruptly as it started. In contrast, I am not unpredictable, not just a burst of energy followed by a complete silence. My path is fixed and I am steady as I move along my charted course. As I advance, there is an unmistakable pattern to my movements, based on my unyielding desire to question and to know.
Thunder has also taught me lessons about life and has had a humbling effect on me. Its loud blasts are powerful announcements that suggest the vulnerability of humankind and the existence of a force greater than us. With every passing storm, I am reminded that God is a guiding energy, stronger than any earthly conflict I face. I look ahead with confidence because of His presence and my own will to soar.
Just as the clouds begin their elegant sweep across the sky, the leaves quiver as if they have felt a chill, and as the scent of rain sweetens the air, I, too, am just beginning. When I look at clouds overhead, I see them filled with opportunity and a rain that can only help to make me grow.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.