It’s fairly widely known in the US that the North and East sides of Dayton, Ohio were pretty much destroyed by several tornadoes overnight May 27th. The damage was widespread and significant impacting most of the surrounding counties. Thankfully, my family was pretty much spared any significant damages, and very few people sustained critical injuries. As of this writing at 9ish pm May 28th there has only been one fatality reported which in itself is a miracle.
Seeing the devastation on the news and hearing about so many places I spent the majority of my young adulthood and a significant portion of my childhood growing up in being leveled or damaged was exceptionally difficult. My relationship with my childhood is a tricky one after growing up in an abusive home. I cling hard and tight to even the most minute happy memories from growing up. A lot of the places associated with many of those memories are now in ruins which makes my emotions complicated to say the least.
Additionally, several of the hardest hit places are where I spent many happy moments of my young adulthood. I met/knew many people from the area through my ex, however after we split up I never took the time to foster any of those acquaintances into friendships. One because it was too emotionally hard on me. Two, there was the obvious distance factor after I moved to Indiana, and three my ex immediately set about turning all of his friends against me. I chose not to maintain contact with just about everyone from my past trying to avoid drama. It didn’t work, but hey… I gave it my best effort. The very few people I did keep in touch with ended up stabbing me in the back and giving personal information about me directly to my already pissed off ex. It was a mess, so I eventually cut all my ties and simply left everyone behind.
I was never super close to most of them anyway, but we did share many happy moments laughing together, hanging out, and getting into/out of stupid trouble that young adults get themselves into. My ex had a horrible habit of taking me places; then disappearing for hours engrossed in his own activities/conversations with other people. I got to know a lot of people beyond how he introduced his own relationship with them. I didn’t take the initiative to foster relationships with them but I do think fondly of them and I DO care that their neighborhoods and/or homes and/or jobs have been destroyed.
It puts me in another weird emotional limbo. I care about these people, but I haven’t spoken to any of them in over a decade. I can’t just randomly look them up and call to see if they’re okay. I doubt they would even remember the awkward quiet girl I used to be anyway. And yet, I’m still concerned for those distant ghosts in my past.
It’s not just people from my past either. A coworker of mine has a nephew stationed at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He was on assignment elsewhere and they flew him home to be with his wife and kids immediately. They lost their home, with at least 100 other people living in base housing. When the military says: “Forget this assignment. Go home.” to an enlisted rank Airman… it’s not a great indication things are going very well.
Of course the entire extent of the damage to the base hasn’t and probably won’t be released to the public for obvious reasons, but it’s pretty messed up for a whole lot of people right now. Even townships and cities in the metro area not directly affected by the funnel clouds themselves are under water boil advisories, stuck without natural gas services and many are without electricity. The entire Dayton area is a big fucking mess and my heart just hurts.
After moving to Indiana I slowly realized that Dayton was the place I associated the most with the feeling of home. The majority of my happy childhood memories took place there and while physically I’m miles away this storm system still hit me right in the childhood.