For those of you who read my very first blog post on this site, you are already aware that I am prone to....spontaneous adventure. From illegally scaling the rocky cliffs of the Turks and Caicos (and subsequently battling a small shark...) to launching myself into a ropes course carrying a $10,000 camera, I don't exactly repel excitement. Often times, my "electric" experiences come from within the minutia of my everyday life....in this week's case, walking across the parking lot to my car at the end of a work day.
If you live in the Tampa Bay area, then you know that, up until today, things have been rather...damp. Even now, the atmosphere is heavy with humidity which I am told should be remedied by Saturday morning. (fingers triple crossed!) Monday was especially rainy, with storms that offered up tropical storm force winds and lightning which, if harnassed, could have likely powered all of St. Petersburg for a month. Maybe more.
As luck would have it, said storm rolled in just about the time I was about to leave the station and make my way across town to Ybor City for my weekly film screening. I stood in the hallway outside my office until I believed the torrential downpour was lessening, then ran across the building only to find the deluge kicking back up just as I was looking to exit. I waited again...this time for only a few minutes before I decided it was better to just toughen up and brave it then to sit idly waiting. Having left all three of my umbrellas in my car, I approached my husband who works on the other side of the building about borrowing an umbrella. He had made the same mistake I had that morning, yielding zero umbrellas indoors....and four of them out.
Luckily, a friendly colleague offered to loan us hers, but the issue arose of her needing it back later on in the evening. So, my husband decided that it would be very romantic to walk me out to my car then return with the umbrella...problem solved, and quality time together spent.
As we stepped outside, the liquid assault intensified, and lightning flashes could be seen no more than a couple of miles off to the north. We clung together and headed for my car as quickly as my heeled feet would allow given the parking lot's slippery conditions. Our backs were being thoroughly saturated, but until we had only about 3 feet left to go, that was our only real issue. We were sure we were home free. Then, Zeus clearly became displeased with our efforts to traverse his maddening storm because he sent a lightning bolt in our directions that nearly knocked us to the ground. It couldn't have hit more than 10 or 12 feet away.
I screamed. My husband ducked. My head became exposed, and my husband, in a flurry of panic, closed the umbrella and took off running for the building. I don't blame him one bit - but there I stood, becoming more and more drenched as I endeavored to shove my giant work bag into my car. The thunder that followed the lightning strike was so loud, I could feel it inside my body, and I was shaking wildly, making the use of my key fob much more difficult that it should have been.
When I finally managed to climb into the driver's seat, I took a few moments to breathe. Rivulets of rainwater flowed from my hairline, down my face to my chin, and dripped all over my dress. I was a mess. But, I was alive. However, my body felt rather....unusual. I became keenly aware of my skin - it was like I could feel it just...being skin. I have no idea how to better explain that. To say it tingled would be an extreme understatement. It was just so....THERE. And, my insides were turning like a front-loading washing machine. I was beginning to get nauseous, but I knew I needed to get on the road, so I pulled out of the parking lot to begin my journey.
I made it about a quarter of a mile before an intense sleepiness overtook me. I felt drugged - like I'd taken a muscle relaxer that was just kicking in. I was sure I was going to fall asleep at the wheel...and in a monsoon, no less! I pulled into the Goodwill parking lot thinking that maybe I could walk around the store for a few minutes until my senses returned and I regained some vitality, but the lightning was coming even more frequently. I didn't dare make a run for it.
I turned off the engine, laid my seat back and set my phone on the seat next to me. I toyed with pre-dialing 911 just in case I lost some of my motor function (that's how weird I felt), but I have heard horror stories about people doing that and the police showing up before the phone call was even actually made, so I decided I would just scream bloody murder if I suddenly lost feeling in my arms and legs. In the moment, that seemed entirely plausible.
The next thing I knew, fifteen minutes had passed. I don't remember falling asleep. I don't remember falling over so that my arm rested under my forehead which was now parallel with my center console. I don't remember knocking my cell phone into the passenger's side floorboard. I must have passed out - it's the only thing I can think of. And, I didn't even get to have any tequila...what a waste.
Upon regaining my composure, having woken with a real lack of clarity as to why I was in the Goodwill parking lot, I resumed my journey to the Ybor movie theater. I stopped at 7-11 for a diet coke and a snack, hoping that would help to curb the weird nausea. It did, to some extend, but I never really felt right again that night.
When I finally returned home quite late in the evening, I was a little afraid to go to sleep. Given the evening's earlier events, I wasn't sure if it was safe! But, eventually my desperate fatigue overtook my fear, and I dosed off, only to awake with my alarm the next morning...same old, same old. I have never been quite so thankful to hear that horrendous, high-pitched screeching.
I looked up "indirect lightning exposure" when I arrived at work on Tuesday morning to no real avail. Apparently, "almost" being hit by lightning is not nearly as glamorous as actually making direct contact, so there was very little literature to help me make sense of my odd post-electrifying symptoms. But, I do know this...I can now see through clothing, bend metal with my teeth and hover a few centimeters off the ground.*
So....I guess that's something. ;)
**Have been informed that symptoms were likely due to an influx and subsequent abatement of adrenaline. I am not superwoman. Yet.