Hurricane Ivan made landfall in the early morning hours of September 16th, 2007. It was my first hurricane as an official homeowner. Because of this, I thought it was necessary to board up my windows and do whatever I could to protect my little abode. I’d seen people make preparations on TV, so that’s what I was supposed to do, right? There we were, in line with the rest of the crazy folks (myself included), buying the standard supplies, most of which would prove to be useless. Plywood, batteries, bottled water, canned goods. (Note: When you find yourself standing in the canned good aisle at the local grocery store staring at bare shelves, try not to let the hysteria overcome the logic of the fact that, even though it’s the only thing available, you really can’t stomach sardines.)
After hours of pacing, I became agitated in that, out of habit, I would rush to the window to see what was going on outside, only to see the backside of a piece of plywood. Damn it! Much like turning on a light switch when you know the power is out. Action; reaction. Flip a switch. Get light, right? Not so much. I was forced to hear the devastation but was unable to see it, which might have made the experience worse. I’d boarded myself in a coffin…Double damn it! After overcoming the feeling of being buried alive, I realized the act of boarding up windows (or taping them for that matter) enables a false sense of security. Whatever it took to protect my self, my house…tape, plywood, sardines…whatever. I needed protection. Same holds true for superstitions. The rally cap, lucky underwear, tossing salt over the left shoulder (or is it the right shoulder?). It’s the slight sense of having control of the uncontrollable. Truth is, the plywood wouldn’t have stood a chance against the 100 year old oak tree that could have very easily crashed through the center of my home. And your team isn’t going to win the game just because you have your hat on inside out.
I am using the hurricane metaphor to declare to myself that the storm has passed. It’s been a hard year for me emotionally and I have decided to come out of the cellar. Granted the storm may not be over, and I am not sure what I will find when I open the hatch. Opening the proverbial hatch prematurely has paid off for me in the past so I am hopeful, you see. After the dangerous part of hurricane Ivan passed, and after checking on friends and family, we were smart enough to take advantage of the wind and misty rain that was still blowing that afternoon. We removed the plywood from the windows and began cleaning up the downed trees and debris. Our neighbors thought we had lost our mind. “Y’all better wait to make sure the worst is over before you get out in that mess. What if another tree limb falls?” As the afternoon progressed, the rain stopped and the breeze diminished. If you live in south Alabama, you know that when the sun comes out after heavy rain in September it gets hot. Steamy. Unbearable. Cleaning up the mess proved to be much easier than had we waited. We watched our neighbors endure the humidity with no air conditioned reprieve in sight. We took a chance and luckily it worked in our favor. The power wouldn’t be restored for another two weeks, and while we still had a lot of work to do, we found comfort in being surrounded with at least a small since of order in our own home.
So you see, comfort is what I seek. As I stroll down memory lane, I try my best to peer around the bend at what lies ahead. I find solice in telling myself, “This storm, too, shall pass.”
“Two roads diverged in the woods…” Robert Frost