When people think of foreign they think of languages, countries, affairs, and literature. I could get a tutor for the languages and literature, guides when in other countries and C-Span for affairs but what if there isn’t anyone to lead?
My first real experience with something foreign occurred in my early 20’s. I was a mother of a vibrant and fearless toddler when I went through my first divorce. I had to get a job, babysitter, learn to change the oil in my car, to learning something as basic as replacing batteries in the smoke detector. Ok, maybe not that, but let’s just say I was the only adult in the house and needed to raise my daughter.
It was a southern stormy night when the tornado sirens started howling. I grabbed my daughter and headed for the closet. I remembered that the water heater closet was next to the one in the hallway that we were seeking protection in. I had to turn off the heater. I grabbed a tool, not knowing what it was meant for and went to work.
I had roughly 7 minutes from the sound of the warning to possible destruction. I handed my daughter the flashlight and that fearless little girl held the light for her mommy with sirens blaring. I turned a knob and I couldn’t feel any vibrations. ‘I think we did it!’ I told the little one who nodded with toddler certainty.
The sirens stopped. I walked outside to find a still sky that was green and black. There were birds up high flying around with gray clouds turning and passing overhead. I knew that it wasn’t good but didn’t want to frighten my little girl. I scooped her up and we quickly made a mattress fort in the closet fully equipped with snacks and crayons. I could hear the sound of the monster starting. Windows trying to hold the barrier, the protesting creaks of the walls and that’s when the lights went out.
We continued to color until there was silence again along with birds chirping. We stepped outside to see the dark sky passing and that our house withstood the tornado. The block behind us didn’t fare well and there was some extensive damage to the houses. Shortly after, I was approached by a utility worker explaining that I needed to turn off the gas that there were some pipes that were busted. I said, ‘I turned the water heater off.’ The puzzled look from the utility worker made me feel stupid. The worker checked and I had completed my task correctly.
Foreign can be found in a task that others don’t even bat an eye at. We made it through that storm but also the storming thoughts of how I couldn’t do things without a husband.
I took this prompt and ran with it. When I was a single mom, everyday actions and items were now foreign to me. I was really put to the test that night.