The Foreign Pleasure of Adrenaline

Ominuous clouds over Kansas State University’s Anderson Hall

I noticed the clouds change as I wrote, and went to the local stadium to get a few photos of them.

I look through a rectangular window facing north outside my basement level apartment and see the green leaves rustle in the wind outside. Instinctively I check my phone for tornado watches and warnings, noting the cloudy skies outside which don’t presently look like the type to birth tornados. Here in Kansas, I’ve seen these types of cloud before, been disarmed by the light appearance of them, only to watch them change throughout the evening into the types of thick clouds people here watch for.

The conclusion of my undergraduate studies and the end of the lease on my apartment this summer bring forth the prospect that this may be my last summer in northeast Kansas. if so, it may also be my last tornado season here.

I admit I’ve come to actually like it.

Obviously not the destruction, nobody likes that and I’m not so insensitive as to ignore the anguish affecting those who have lost property and family members to tornados.

But I admit there is a certain rush to them. There’s a certain adrenaline rush that comes from hearing the tornado siren go off and knowing you need to get inside somewhere. There’s a certain adrenaline rush from gathering up a few of your closest belongings, your emergency water and first aid kit, then taking shelter in whatever window-free room you can find.

There’s also few things more terrifying, and oddly, I think that’s why I’ll miss this part of the country if I ever move away from it, even if I end up moving somewhere like Texas where there are technically more tornados any given year than here in Kansas.

I’ve never been one to enjoy the effect of pumping adrenaline. I avoid scary movies (though that’s as much because I have a hauntingly-good memory and fear is a physically painful emotion), I don’t generally drive fast, even shooting firearms doesn’t excessively get me going.

There’s something about what tornados bring that I find I like. The prospect of helping others, as I was able to do in 2008 when a small city I had lived in was essentially destroyed (including one fatality), the prospect of surviving a close call with a beautifully powerful force of nature and maybe helping others learn more about them; these things excite me far more than most things I’ve done ever could.

As I contemplate what “home” means to me, and where I look to establish it next, I’m suddenly quite conscious that even the most dangerous things in life can sometimes be enjoyable. Like watching fire.

What scares you that you also enjoy?

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