I believed I was on my own, had to fend for myself, and I was unworthy of God's notice--despite the fact I also grew to believe I could be used as a conduit. Makes no sense? Well, it does if you think of God as the CEO of a huge conglomerate and you're a peon who works the night shift down in one of the thousands of mail rooms. ;)
I digress. As is my nature.
Let's see...the next big incident I remember had to do with the FridleyTornadoes-May 6, 1965-when I was 14 years old.
First of all, since I am not the best listener, I think GA found that he could contact me more easily as I was falling asleep or, most often, waking up--before my brain went into high gear. I'd be waking up and "get" information (still do). Like that my first pair of hamsters, Mr. (brown) and Mrs. (albino) Little One had just had nine albino male babies. (What were the odds of that!) But on rare occasions I'd get information in the middle of the night or when I was wide awake.
The first time I consciously remember one of those inside-my-head conversation was when I was five:
Okay--the tornadoes and strangers.
When I was in sixth grade I had this scary dream. It was pitch black. I was standing hunched against a mighty wind. My hands were bound in front of me. I was inside of something--my face was against this thin box or whatever it was--I could feel the rocks, branches, or something that was pelting against my face and the whole front of my body. I couldn't move my hands. There was this horrible, loud sound that reminded me of a train when you have snuck up too close to the tracks--but I knew it wasn't a train. I woke up in the dark, heart racing. I heard--"don't be afraid--remember this". Like a command. Made no sense to me.
Three years later. I'm at the Fridley Junior High Science Fair. My project was I fed two black guinea pigs differently. (Dumb project, but any excuse to spend time with my critters--hehe!) My friend, Lynette, and I shared a table. She had used her big rat, Charlie, (who never ran on the wheel) for her project. The various displays were arranged on the tables all around the outer edge of the gymnasium. Parents and teachers were milling. And I was feeling guilty.
My brother, Blaine, went to his boy scout meeting over by the trailer court, I was gone to the Science Fair, and my folks had wanted to go to a movie. They wanted me to take my sister, Renee, along with me that night. But I had adamantly refused. Didn't want my little sister hanging around and having to watch her when I was supposed to be explaining my experiment--well, you know how that goes with big sisters.
I felt badly, though--decided to call my folks and let them know they could drop Renee off with me. Found my dime, told Lynette where I was going, and went to call on the pay phone straight down the hall by the front doors. My dad answered--but before I could get much of anything out he shouted--A tornado's coming! We're going to the basement!
I stood for a second, listening to the dial tone, and gazing out the front sets of doors at the green sky. Nothing was moving. It looked really strange outside.
I rushed back down the hallway to the big gym doors and pulled--and pulled--there was this pressure--like suction--couldn't get the door open. The double sets of front doors suddenly blew open--and the doors way at the far end of the main hallway at the other end of the building flew open, too! Wind whistled down the hallway as the door finally gave way. I jumped inside and the big door slammed loudly behind me. Everyone was just standing or milling about--casually the Science Fair was in progress. A few parents looked over at me with that annoyed looked parents get when you are too noisy. I felt safe.
I fast-walked across the room to our table and grabbed up my guinea pigs. I looked Lynette in the eyes and said--my dad says there's a tornado....
...the lights flickered, my ears popped, and a long narrow section of the ceiling disappeared all along the opposite side of the gym wall.
People went crazy! Some screamed, everybody raced for the closest doors, a dad dove into a ball under a table across the room from me, some grownups pushed kids aside to get just themselves or to herd their own kids out into the hallways. I stood there with my guinea pigs and watched. I remember thinking that, if this was my time to die, I was ready. I "knew" I wasn't supposed to move.
Another section of the roof disappeared and another. A mini funnel appeared in the middle of the gym and the wind instantly geared up. Things started lifting up off the tables. At some point the lights went out. The last thing I saw was that man huddled under that school table. A big piece of poster board slapped up against my face and body and I braced myself against the wind.
AHA! The Dream!! It was exactly like my dream. But my hands weren't bound. I couldn't move them because I was cradling a guinea pig in each arm. It was poster board! And I was being pelted by glass and who knows what from all the displays. And the sound! The sound kind of like a train, but not. I remembered. I realized I hadn't been afraid even before I consciously remembered the dream--as soon as I heard the tornado--the sound--before the roof started coming off in sections.
Anyways, the wind died as the tornado passed over the Junior High. The poster board slid down onto the floor and it started to rain. The roof was gone and all the lights were out. As my eyes adjusted, I saw the man get up off the floor. The table he'd been hiding under was gone and so were the rest of them on that side of the room. I tried to see through my wet glasses and gingerly pick my way thru the rubble to get to the hallway. I had my penny loafers on and was afraid of losing a shoe. There was glass, rubble, and tables everywhere.
People were in shock. Most people were silent and hushed, some were aimless and confused, some were hysterical, many were crying. The first thing I saw was a dad standing against the wall with a blank, hollow glaze to his eyes. I knew he was in a bad way. I made a kind of basket out of my sweater for the guinea pigs, so I had one hand free--walked over and asked him if he was okay. No response. I placed my hand on his chest and stood there for a few seconds. He kind of came to and turned to look at me. Are you okay, I asked, as I moved my hand to his arm. He took a deep breath and looked better. I remember asking if he needed help finding anybody? He thanked me and said no and off he went.
I walked up and down the main hallway. Just standing next to certain people. Touching people's arms, hands--talking calmly to them. I was aware that in that crowd of people you could count on one hand with fingers left over how many people were centered and helping other people. It was the first time I was aware of being different in a crisis. (Not that I didn't have dream help--hehe! And I do collapse after the fact.)
But I would never in my right mind under normal circumstances go up to complete strangers--especially parents and teachers!--and touch them and comfort them. Good Lord! We didn't touch or hug in my own Swedish family.
Note: I went back into the dark rainy gym for Lynette to see if I could find her rat, Charlie. There was only one table left standing and only one thing on that table--Charlie's cage. And I could hear him running on the wheel before I saw him, so I was sure it wasn't him. Lynette could hear me laughing in the darkness. :)
Another friend, Cheryl, had her project with her two hamsters set up in a classroom down the hall (it was a big Science Fair--the windows in the classrooms had shattered--inward). I helped her locate one hamster (the other I did find dead, but didn't tell her at the time because she was quite rattled) and walked her home in between tornadoes. She lived about a block and a half from my house. Made her laugh by dancing on a piece of the senior high roof laying by the road. We avoided the live wires and rubble. I was glad to feel the warmth of my two furry friends in that chilly rain. (Never did find their cage.) Made it home. Mom, Dad, Renee, and the house were still standing. My brother was okay, even though the trailer court nearby the troop meeting was destroyed. My folks were immediately upset that I left my purse with my transistor radio in it, but brought the guinea pigs home. *she giggles*
Okay. My other Strangers story--skip to the winter of 1969-70. My life, shall we say, had been a lot about survival. Unlucky in love, rape, moves, different jobs. I had landed in a cheap 2 bedroom apartment with four other girls inAnoka, Minnesota. I'd already done a little experimenting with grass and pills. Enough to know I had an addictive personality, liked speed not downers or hallucinogens, and it was a good thing I had a near phobia about needles or I could have been a dead cokehead by then! I had backed off, but I'd come home from work and find parties going on most nights. Which I wouldn't have minded if I didn't sleep on the livingroom floor--hehe! But, I was the new addition to the group when I moved in, so had little to say...at first.
Note: Within a couple of months, I ended up the rent collector and payer, apartment cleaner, and chief cook--even if I really only knew how to make goolash/hamburger hotdish.
Anyways, I come home one night, the place is filled with people, but they're not partying--they're all looking like rats hunting for the deck ropes--and I can hear some female sobbing. There was a girl curled in the fetal position on the floor in the corner of the livingroom. They told me the girl had taken acid for the first time and was completely bumming out and would scream if anyone touched her. Can you help her?
Now why on earth would they ever assume I could help her? And why on earth did I tell them--Yes?!!! I went into a kind of auto-pilot--like I did after the tornado. I had never had any experience with a situation like this--ever--yet I heard myself telling them I could, but they all had to leave (terrible energy?). The place was cleared out in what seemed like moments--(of course--hehe!) I don't remember exactly what I said or how I ended up with her head in my lap in the corner--but within ten minutes she was calm as I stroked herblonde hair off her damp forehead. I just knew that god-energy would be there to help her--to comfort her frightened soul. And this is on such a deep core level that I can honestly say I wasn't consciously aware of thinking or making decisions, you know? Like reaching out in darkness with your heart wide open and being guided along by a small beam of light.
Each of us is but a child of God. A solitary soul in this Universal web of life.
Whew! I had to stop for some serious nose blowing. I think I know now why I felt I was "supposed" to write about all of this. It brings me back and flings my heart open. A kind of preparation for what is to come starting on New Year's Eve, I bet.
Anyways, one of the roommates had forgotten something and came tiptoeing into the apartment. Couldn't believe her eyes! I put my finger to my lips and she backed out the door.
Apparently she told everybody. Fast forward a couple months...pounding on the door. I answer it. Two young men gripping the forearms of an angry, wild-eyed mumbling fellow struggling to get away. "You Rita?", one of the arm grippers asks. "Yes." "Somebody slipped him something at the pizza parlor." "Acid?" "Don't know. Think so. He's a redneck. A drinker. He'd never touch that kind of shit." (The roommates were already grabbing their coats and purses as soon as they overheard the conversation) "This is crazy," the other guy said. "Can you help him?" "Yes." They let go of him and start rushing down the hall. "What's his name!" "John!", they called over their shoulders. I heard breaking glass! "Good Luck!" one girl said. "Make him pay for that", another one said as they whizzed past me out the door.
This six foot something football-player-type guy had walked into our bathroom next to the front door and smashed his fist into the mirror over the sink. His hand was bleeding. He pushed past me, stumbled around the apartment, smashed a wine glass on the floor, headed down the bedroom hallway, and started trying to open the window at the end of the hallway--on third floor!
I wish I could tell you exactly what happened. I remember thinking in my head--okay--I need help now! I do remember suddenly knowing that he was hearing voices coming from other places than the person who was talking to him--and explaining that to him. And that he should sit in the bedroom and not the living room because we didn't have much furniture and it was more echoey in there. But ten minutes later he was calmed down, I was holding his hand wrapped in a towel with my left hand, and holding my other hand on the center of his back as we sat on the edge of the bed.
When they sent me the people on bummers, the roommates or any of the crashers gladly fled to find other places for the night. I knew I had a good 7-10 hours ahead of me with this particular stranger until either someone picked them up or I tucked them in to sleep and they'd leave after they rested. I remember redneck guy and I took a walk to watch the sun rise and then he got tucked into a roommate's bed with a kiss on the forehead--left that afternoon, but came back with packs of cigarettes for me. (I was often rewarded with packs of cigarettes. *chuckle*)
Note: As long as I was getting known, I used to feed the street people goolash or whatever I could make for dinner--first come first serve. And they could sleep on the floor (most of them were under 25 and it was winter poor things!) and what little we had that would serve as blankets and pillows was also first come first serve. (A rolled up sweatshirt can make a pretty fine pillow.) The door was locked to the crashers at a certain time--I think it was midnight--and no one was allowed in after that. Tough love. And no drugs allowed. I had to throw out somebody now and again. Learned there was another rule--no locking the bathroom door--period.
Toward spring we were robbed of our rent money, lost the apartment, and I ended up living on the streets of Anoka for the summer. I became known as "the mad hugger" and people who didn't now my name called me "Sunshine." I was protected--by big guys who were like my big brothers--and, obviously, GA. (I have overworked him a lot in my lifetime.) Good times.
Oh that reminds me--