The Best Worst Day Ever

February 18, 2017

My parents brought out my cake, and all my friends sang “Happy Birthday.”  As I leaned in to blow out all thirteen candles, the wind did the job for me. A wretched wail filled the air, and my parent’s turned pale. In a moment, my dad was leading all twelve of us into our storm cellar and my mom was getting my dog, Princess. As the last one to go in, I turned and looked back at the house that I had spent exactly thirteen years in, wind echoing in my ears. This was where all my memories were made, where I grew up. I prayed that my house would be fine. When my mom came out of the house with Princess, we all made our way into the cellar and closed the door. The wind howled with anger. My friends lay down in a tight circle and blocked their ears. I pulled my knees to my chest. I couldn’t shake the thought that the tornado was hovering over our house, ripping it apart piece by piece. Princess lay next to me and I could tell she was trying to block out the noises of the wind. A few minutes later, the wind was calm and quiet. My dad lifted up the door to our storm cellar. I followed, hoping my home was untouched by the storm.
Right before I was born my family moved to Lincoln, Nebraska to be closer to my mom’s side of the family. My mom was reluctant about moving into the Tornado Alley because she experienced one of the worst tornadoes in history when she was just sixteen. My father never saw a tornado, but he was okay with moving to Nebraska as long as our house had a storm cellar.
Apparently when I was three, there was a small tornado that went right over our house and did minimal damage. Other than that time, I had never experienced a tornado, nor had I been
into my storm cellar. Occasionally, I would be playing in my yard and trip over the handle of the cellar door. I rarely even thought about it, and I also never thought I’d have to go in it.
When I was in first grade, I went to my friend’s birthday party at the town playground. I had never been to a party before, but I loved it. That day when I went home I asked my mother “Can I have a birthday party?” She looked a little upset when I asked. “I don’t think so Jamie,” she replied.  I asked, “Why Mother?”  She answered, “I don’t know if it’s in our price range at the moment, but maybe next year.”
I asked her again the next year, and the next year, and the year after that until I finally figured out a pattern. We didn’t have the money for it. I was determined to have a birthday party by the time I turned thirteen. I figured out a way to do that and not have to spend money.
On my twelfth birthday, I started planning my thirteenth birthday party. I kept thinking about an affordable location: the only place I could do it for free was the playground, but I was turning thirteen. I needed some place that was mature and a place that I personally enjoyed. Of course! My favorite place on earth, my house. I decided to have it in my backyard and play field games. I spent hours carefully planning each event and how the rules would work. For one event I took canned soup and other foods and put them randomly around my yard, and then made blindfolds out of some old shirts. The objective of the game was to guide someone through the food without them knocking over a canned good. I organized teams that put me and my closest friends on a team. I even made an invitation that looked super formal and I tied a ribbon around each one. The Invitation read,
“Who: Jamie Smith.
Where:Jamie’s house.
When: September 19th.
What: Field Game birthday party.
I handed each invitation out to every girl in the seventh grade, even though my grade only has eleven girls in it. Every single girl I invited said they would come!
Unfortunately, I forgot to tell my parents that I had planned a birthday party. I told them two days before the festivities began.  “Jamie!” my mom said when I told her. “There’s supposed to be a thunderstorm that day.”  I was devastated. My perfect party on the perfect day would have to be moved inside. “But Mom!” I said, “the party has to be outside! Please!”  “Fine,” she replied, “We’ll see what happens.”
On the morning of September 19th, the sun was shining and the air was a perfect temperature. I woke up happy as could be. I was about to have the first birthday party of my life in my favorite place in the world.
At 11:00, all my friends started to arrive. One by one, each girl arrived and joined me in the backyard for field games. We played hopscotch, telephone, and broken telephone until my parents called for us to sit at the picnic table on our back deck. My father made us a really good lunch, followed by a cake which was my favorite flavor, vanilla with sprinkles.
My friends sang happy birthday as I smiled from ear to ear. In the middle of the song, some of the napkins on our table began to fly away. When the cake was placed in front of me, I leaned in to blow the candles. Before I made my wish and even sucked in air, a gust of wind blew out the candles for me. My friends and I exchanged confused glances. After a minute of barely any sound other than the blowing wind, a terrible sound traveled to our house.
“What is that?” I asked everyone at the table.  “That’s the tornado siren.” my mom said, looking as pale as snow. The next thing I knew my father was shoving all twelve of us into the storm cellar that I had never been in, and my mother was fetching Princess. My mother and Princess scrambled out of the house and into the cellar before me. All of a sudden, everything was still. Was this the last time I’d be seeing my house, the place I grew up in? I didn’t have time to come up with an answer, because my father closed the cellar door.
The winds blocked out all the outside noises, but the voices in my head over powered them all. “Is the house going to be damaged? Destroyed” a voice kept asking. I was trembling with fear for my house.
All of a sudden, the earth felt calm. My father opened the cellar door and emerged followed by the rest of the girls. I was last. I didn’t know what to think. As I peeked out of the door, I saw the same old, beautiful house I grew up in. A few shingles torn off the roof, the window to my kitchen shattered, and the shutters from my parent’s bedroom window seemed to be all that was done to the house. My friends called their parents, and it seemed that the tornado didn’t cause too much destruction because all of their houses suffered only minor damage.
The lesson I learned on my thirteenth birthday was that I didn’t need a party. All I really needed for my birthday was the things that I took for granted every day. I need my family, I need my friends, and my house. I always took it for granted that I had a roof to sleep under and a place to spend my free time, but I never realized how big of an impact this house has on my life. On September 19th I not only celebrate my birthday, but I celebrate a miracle that was was brought to me and my family: the most beautiful place on earth, my home.

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