This weekend was my first hurricane.
I grew up in Tennessee, which is not tornado alley, but that Southern state gets its fair share of tornadoes. Those I’ve dealt with before. In fact, tornado warnings and watches were so commonplace, I joke that I spent half my childhood in the basement.
Tornados are fast and unpredictable and they jump around. One minute it’s on Bearwallow Road, the next minute it’s all the way over on Highway 49. You are usually only at risk for about, say, 30 minutes. Then it’s over. If you are lucky, you go back to bed.
This plodding, continent-sized hurricane business is new to me.
They tell you it’s coming days in advance. You can watch it move. Your city can close down the entire mass transit system a full day before the first raindrop. There is lots of time to prepare.
The waiting, my god, it’s excruciating. It’s really fucking scary. You’ve got media people screaming that you are going to die, and after the first twenty or so hours you kind of start to believe it.
My friend Jo put it perfectly, “…sitting and waiting for something to strike that might hurt you or not is panic-inducing in its very nature.”
The cats could not stay away from the windows. They were chasing raindrops with their paws, and I kept shooing them away. I tried to read, nap and other indoor activities to keep me occupied, but all I could do with stare at my phone waiting for more news about the hurricane.
Slowly it slumbered this way.
And then it was here. And it was about as powerful as a hard rain.
The wind has howled louder, the building has swayed harder and I have been more in awe of a simple thunderstorm. I was thankful—so happy, really—but also fired up and ready to fight. I mean, I wasn’t going to bare knuckle a hurricane, but you spend so long steeling yourself to its eventual onslaught, that when it barely shows up in the ring, you have all this pent of energy percolating, swirling inside you, festering.
I had images of a screaming sky, walls rocking, glass shattering, hiding in the stairwell for safety. None of that came to be. Thankfully. Sadly, others were not so fortunate.
It was a very quiet—eerily quiet—weekend. The people on the streets and in storms preparing for the storm were speaking to one another as if they were old friends. There was nervous energy. There were cats in carriers in pet stores and so few cars on the road.
The city was still.