I have a memory from college, driving through Tucson, AZ – an underrated city with amazing views of the stars – with my two best friends when I saw a lightning storm in the distance. As the lightning struck I exclaimed, “woah, lightning!” Apparently with such fervor that my friends laughed. I never realized how subtle my general emotions were until that moment. This was excitement out loud. Somehow, opening a birthday gift I loved could never convey this level of excitement.
Every time I see a lightning storm I’m reminded of that moment. Of the raw emotion that this spectacular light show reveals. I’m currently watching a lightning storm over the ocean from our pool on the beach in Koh Lanta, Thailand. Over the ocean, which is now only a black void with the most subtle distinction of sky from ocean in the distance and the sounds of waves lightly lapping at the shore, the sky is lit with strikes from the left and right. I can’t begin to adequately describe it. Lightening enthralls me. Of all the natural phenomena I have no idea why this is the one I find most captivating. Especially from a distance when you can see entire clouds fill with white-yellow color for half a second and then one bolt strike down. The sky is black. You can’t see a thing but the few bamboo lights smattered about the Lanta New Coconut Bungalow, an eclectic playlist pulsating in the background. A handful of guests and employees enjoy light conversation in various languages. And then every 12-28 seconds the sky lights up with a ripple, illuminating clouds high above that weren’t visible before or illuminating the horizon far off in the distance that previously was a black abyss. On the off occasion, it reverberates above and the thunder begins to roll, you feel the storm moving closer, you smell the air feeling fresher – lighter with the threat of rain, and yet you can’t look away and don’t want to move. It’s indescribably beautiful.
Viewing a lightening storm in Koh Lanta, especially during the low season on a quiet beach, is one of those memories that you know future smells and sounds will nostalgically bring you back to years from now.