Column: Twister sends me back home


A tornado took Dorothy away from her home.

A tornado brought me back.

I’ve been living away from my hometown of Evansville, Ind., for over two years now. I have no regrets about the decision. You grow up. You move on. You acquire debt. Welcome to life.

But my thoughts and heart have wandered away from southern Indiana as well. I’m a horrible long-distance friend. A group of friends sent me a “missing person” card at the beginning of September. It’s now November and I still haven’t responded.

I don’t mean to be the terrible guy who leaves town and never thinks of it again.

It’s just that I get busy. Cell phones are expensive to use during the day. Amnesia?

But Sunday morning sent my thoughts reeling back home when my dad, who lives in Seattle, called and informed me that a tornado struck Evansville the night before.

Suddenly, I was home again. Is my mom OK? Is my grandma OK? Is my brother OK? If he’s not, can I have his copy of Madden 2006?

I called my grandma for the first time in a couple of months.

“Hello?”

“Hello?” (It’s a well-known fact people in southern Indiana have the best telephone etiquette in the world.)

She was OK. As was all my family. They live on the north and west sides. The tornado struck near the river and the far east side. It then did considerable damage in Newburgh, where I lived during part of my elementary school years. In all, the tornado has killed 22 people so far.

I remember being 8 years old in Newburgh when a tornado struck and I watched it from the front door of our apartment. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. It’s not so cool anymore.

Two years ago, I was living and working in La Salle-Peru when a tornado killed a number of people in Utica, a mere five minutes away from my apartment. I heard from friends and family who I hadn’t talked to in a few months. The tornado brought me home to them.

Disasters happen every day. Sometimes they come in the form of tornadoes. Sometimes they come in the form of car accidents. Sometimes they come in the form of network television.

But in any form, they make us remember those who have cared for us and those who we care for. I may never move back to Evansville. But that doesn’t mean I have to forget it. And hopefully, it doesn’t take me another disaster to remember that.

So, it’s time for me to send a postcard to that group of friends informing them exactly where that “missing person” is. If I’m lucky, they’ll remember me too.

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