IMG_2343You really can’t understand the mentality of a Floridian unless you are one.  You could never really imagine what it’s like standing on your front porch while a hurricane bears down on you from all sides.  Witnessing the shear power of the wind to bend and twist, to unearth and shred the steadfast landmarks of your life until nothing familiar remains.  The sound is reminiscent of a freight train barreling down the tracks at full speed while you are tied to them.  You hope you are tied to them, anyway, lest you be pulled into the vortex.  Only in the very beginnings of the storm can one truly witness this.  To be out too long in the weather would be deadly.  The fear starts to overcome the curiosity.  There is a perceptible change in barometric pressure and the deepest parts of the brain send chemicals to the rest of the body signaling –it’s time to go, this shit’s about to get real.

If you haven’t lived through a hurricane, you could never understand the feeling of being equal parts afraid for your life and more alive than you’ve ever been.  It’s exhilarating and horrifying.

I’ve been there.  I’ve done that, and to be honest, I never want to do it again.

I feel a kindred spirit with my Floridian sisters and brothers who chose to stay despite the dire warnings.  There is a undeniable urge to bear witness.  Not so much for the spectacle, but because it feels like it’s part of the plan.  This is your home, your stuff, your family, your neighborhood, your neighbors.  There is a need to be there for each other, to hunker down, survive, crawl from the wreckage, and rebuild, together.

Life is like that.  We must be there for each other in the good times and the bad.  And even more so in the bad.  When it’s bad, that’s the signal to step up and do the right thing.  Humans have survived through the millennia because we discovered that there is strength in numbers.  We are better when we are numerous.  We are better when we work together for a common goal -to survive.

To stay is bold.  To stay is brave.  To stay is batshit crazy.

After the storm, it is eery.  It is too quiet.  Even the birds are gone.  People start to move out of their shelters, slowly at first, cautious steps into an alien world.  The sky is grey -lined with white clouds in strips moving outward like ripples in a pond.  There is a cool crispness in the air.  That’s strange, but welcoming since the air conditioning will likely not crank on for weeks.  Nothing is as it was.  It’s as if the great winds had blown the entire town backwards in time, before cars and power and cell phones and grocery stores and shampoo and running water.  It’s like starting over from scratch.

After the storm, the first place I wanted to see was the beach.  I wanted to stand at the place where the storm came ashore and tried to tear my town apart.  It missed by about 50 miles and I wanted to tell it so.  I stayed.  You missed.  This time.  Standing there, I knew we got lucky.  The ocean was still angry, the beach sand now covering the roads, dotted by unrecognizable twisted bits and pieces of condos, as if thrown about by a toddler in a tantrum.

Looking at the ocean, I had faced the fear, but still felt fearful.  I would never do this again.  The next time, I knew, I would leave.

This entry was posted in My Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Hurrican’t

  1. Dewy says:

    They are awful. We were holidaying in Vanuatu when the tail of the cyclone came through. The waves came up. The trees fell over the edges. The island was only two minutes walk from one side to the other . I was terrified . The island was flat and it wouldn’t take too much. I kept watch that night. I couldn’t sleep. I was keeping my eye on a single rock. If the water had come up to cover that rock we would have been goners..
    The only high place was to climb up to the roof of our bungalow. I had two young ones and 5 months pregnant.
    Never again. Over here cyclone season is January to April.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Deb says:

    When sheriff’s officials and first responders are stating emphatically that they will talk you through CPR over the phone (if even available) but they will not enter the hurricane zone, well- I think you are spot on- staying around is bat shit crazy!


  3. dawnkinster says:

    If you are there I hope you have left by now.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. After the deluge and pounding winds, we see our world differently. That’s because much seems the same, but so much never will be the same again. Perhaps we all need to step back and consider where we fit into the world. Then realize after this kind of storm, the world never will be the same again in so many ways. Warmest thoughts for those in the path of the storm. May you find someone to hug, and someone to help you pick up the pieces.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I understand the compulsion to “bear witness” at the same time as wanting to run as fast as I can in the opposite direction. But this is for a garden variety thunderstorm. Hurricane? No way.
    Beautifully written.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Create Space says:

    I truly hope all other Floridians get to walk away unharmed and tell their tale just like you have!

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.