It is windy out.
It howls past my home, creaking walls, fluttering leaves, and yanking on the plastic that insulates my windows–a ceaseless wave of grabbing hands sent in search of every ounce of warmth my home possesses. That I posses.
The wind hungers for something, anything, and nothing. The snap of a distant branch, the crash of some once-mighty tree, the hum of electricity surging as devices breathe one last gasp before collectively dying. None of these is enough for it, to end the rising and falling roaring as it whips up dead leaves and anxious emotions.
“This is weather to end the world” I think as I reach for a candle I had prepared for this moment. The flame gutters in an unseen breeze as I shift it to a more central location, the encroaching darkness of my living room a match for the darkness in my mind as that thought leads to the drastic shift in the storms and winters I once favored. “This is weather because we’re ending the world” I ammend out loud, an admission to the kernels of truth that form the center of the anxiety that is ever present in mind.
I used to wonder what people meant by climate anxiety. I have lived in The Midwest my whole life, after all. Torrential downpours, gale force winds, tornadoes, blizzards, and lightning. Everything except hurricanes (or their siblings across the globe, tropical storms) and earthquakes. At least, that was true once.
Now, as I watch hurricane after hurricane push further inland each year, I wonder if we might get those as well. Now, as we drink the world dry beneath us, I wonder if we might get earthquakes soon as well. Now, I no longer wonder what people mean by climate anxiety. Instead, I wonder how I will manage it as I toss it on the growing pile.
This reverie is interrupted by a bang. I look around, all contemplation driven away by the lurking fear that this unsound, cut-corner apartment will come crashing down around me, and assure myself of my safety. Careful analsys in the play-by-play already running in my head reveals it was the outside door. The wind enjoys eddying in my front porch on calmer days, leaving me gifts of leaves, dried grass, and the ever-present coating of pollen whose source I can never identify. It make sense that, as it rages tonight, it might throw a rager on my porch as well.
In darkness illuminated by my fully charged cell phone, I pull my storm door tight against my front door, fastening the handles together using a bit of rope I’d prepared for just this moment. Secured, it flutters slightly in the heavy windows, but it is not stolen by them. I return to my couch, careful to avoid upsetting the water I have set out, the batteries I collected, the radio I have standing by, and the various power banks I made sure were filled to the brim. I have lived my whole life in The Midwest, after all. I know how to prepare.
Eventually, my evening ends. My teeth are brushed, my bed is prepared, my replacement white-noise machines are running on fresh batteries. I am comfortable and secure in my bed, earplugs in against the roaring wind and the skittering paws of small dogs in the apartment above mine. The poor things are not handling this storm so well as I am. Their forlorn whines have joined the symphony of the winds, but my earplugs block it all out. I am secure. I am safe. I am even sleepy. My anxieties have been put to bed and now it is my turn.
As I drift off to sleep, the quiet whir of my white noise machines joining the murmur of the music I have played in the background of my sleep for over half my life, everything vanishes from my mind except the gentle creak of my building shifting in the wind. I am too close to unconsciousness to mind it, ready to sleep through tornado sirens once again now that I’ve finally found myself drifting off, but a stray thought walks through my mind.
“One more thing to get used to” it says. I am unable to acknowledge it, my mind already vanishing in the haze of sleep, but I am still aware enough to see it move over to my pile of anxieties and take a seat in front of them. Here to stay, like all the others.