Glad for My Backside Family

Wanted to write a quick thanks for those of you who reached out to check on the fam, the farm and our horses.  Everything ended perfectly at the racetrack.  Not a single horse of anyones was hurt.  When I pulled out this morning, the waterline was still running from the ceiling, but all the horses who stayed in the barn were calm and sleepy.  A portion of the roof was ripped off of barn 21 - the barn my Dad has been housed in for 28 years.  Sort of strange to see through the barn instead of seeing the low roofline on the other side.  The damage was incredible - not so much that there was tons of devastation, but that wind can slice things, remove them and all the while not touch other things. More than being shocked by the rubble and such, I was surprised to find a few of our guys hanging out outside the barn with friends.  As I walked up they shined the flashlight in my face and quickly yelled, "Miss Liz, sorry about that, we thought you were a bossy cop or something."  Oh boys.  Not all the usual crew, but most of them I recognized.  After a round of unnecessary apologies they started telling me how it happened.  Something about no funnel cloud, they don't believe it was a tornado, just debris flying everywhere and dirt and the noise of the horses moving while the wind whistled.  One of them watched from the grandstand.  And some horse kept kicking.  Well, maybe that was the roof falling off.  Come see this.  Watch out for nails.  Look, it didn't even move my shoes...

30 seconds of 'big fish' stories and they moved on to other times they'd been scared.

Hiding under a  wheelbarrow while a tornado destroyed a barn, the survival of Katrina and experience of a neighborhood gun fight made the list.  Leaving a family behind as they left to find work, losing place after place to stay and a stint of homelessness, too.  I know I've had an easy life.  I get that.  When I moved to college and spent time on my stories, I saw some really amazing, scary, life-changing things.  But only for a few hours here and there did I have to envelope myself in someone else's pain.  I can't quite fathom growing up in a neighborhood where guns are a constant fear or living through a hurricane that devastated a major city.  Or being in a home where drug deals are part of afternoon snack and living joyfully still.

That backside crew isn't always the classiest and leans a little more on the sketchy side of life, but while I walked around the backside past midnight, I never felt afraid.  I saw men sleeping on feed bags, pieces of raw chicken strewn in the street, a few police, but mostly lots of dark and quiet from the lack of electricity.  An eery stillness.  I found my friend, Gilbert, who peeked out from behind yellow and red tape when he saw me.  A quick hello, some broken English in between and he whisked me away to see his horses untouched by the barn that fell in around them.

The stories about life they shared.  Well, they were tough to hear.  I'm glad it was dark so I couldn't read their faces.  But through their hearty laughter fueled by friendship and like lives, I was reminded that people are good.  And people are people.  And wood and concrete and straw can be fixed and replaced, but our people can't.  Hug your people.  And when you see our people out and about, remember that they're just sweet people who have walked a different path.  And that your roof can be ripped off just as quickly as theirs and mine.  God is good to have kept us all safe.  And my ponies, too.  Safe.

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