I’ve spoken with mom three times since the hurricane hit the island. This third time, though, made me feel a small sense of relief I didn’t even know I needed until the very end. It was like a shot of happy, one that doesn’t kill your liver. (What d’you know? My horrible humor is slowly coming back.)
There’s finally signal in areas of my hometown, so she doesn’t have to wait to drive out and make a call. Such a silly thing, some might think, but in the age of technology (or, as Hardison would say, Age of the Geek) when you have the ability to talk to someone in a matter of seconds…not being able to talk to your family, of not knowing how they are, well, it gives a whole new name to the word stress.
I realize there were times you’d have to wait weeks to get a letter, and I’m sure in those times they were masters of patience, but I wasn’t born in those times. For that reason (and many more), I wear my stress and anxiety like a warm blanket of banshees. Don’t ask me how that works.
Today was also the first day we were able to talk for longer than usual. She told me about the experience and, I have to say it, I hated the idea of not being there. I wouldn’t have been of much help (…well, maybe some. I’m good at fetching things), but I would’ve been there, you know?
The house wasn’t damaged, but mom told me how it woke her up because of the sounds the wind was making. I’ve lived in PR during a hurricane (George), so I remember the sound of hurricane wind, but based on mom’s description, this was a lot worse. They usually put up wood panels over the windows because the ones on one side of the living room is made of glass. The windows still shook. You could still hear it. And as soon as it passed, mom wanted to check on my grandma who lives two towns over (or one, I can’t remember, it’s been so long).
Mom told me about the trees that got ripped out of the ground, how they drove past land that looked like something had shaved it, and there were power lines hanging low, but they were able to make it to my grandma’s. While she told me she felt cold at the sight of everything, I was already cold. While she put those images in my head, I put them next to images of the places I remember.
Those images of the past looked a lot better than what was being described as the present. I didn’t want to believe it, but I couldn’t not believe it. I had seen it, pictures and videos of it, but I hadn’t seen anything from the routes I remember, of the houses I knew and saw. Hearing it this way, made me see it two ways: as the kid that walked those streets and now, the adult who hasn’t seen them in years.
My grandma was okay, she was cleaning when they got there, since water had gone in through the windows. As each family member reunited, there were material losses, but they were all okay. And then I went from feeling guilty for not being there, to being thankful they were all safe, to feeling horrible because there are people who are still not safe.
Hi! Welcome to my Brain! There is no entrance fee; however, disclaimer alert, I am not the most logical being on the planet.
My mom asked me if I remember the house near my grandma’s, where I used the bathroom once, (to which I should’ve responded, “Of course, my butt always remembers where it has claimed a throne,” but, y’know, not feeling particularly humorous at the time, I just settled for, “Yup, I do!”). Thank goodness they evacuated the nice lady (whose face I remember, but not the name) before the storm, because as it was made of wood, the entire thing collapsed.
Mom also said the central parts of the island are suffering. There’s a town that no one can drive to, the roads completely collapsed. They’re getting aid by helicopter, but that’s about the extent of it, I believe. Mom has an AM radio, but since it is solar powered, it can only go for so long before it has to be charged. Though that might be partly because she used it after charging it for a short while the first time, instead of letting it fully charge. Can’t say I blame her. I would’ve waited half a minute, maybe.
Empathy is a gift, it really is, but it comes with a buttload of fine print (simply put: you feel a lot.)
I think that’s why I’ve avoided articles as much as I have, and have avoided talking about it at length, because the more I do, the more I feel like I’m not doing enough. Which is crazy, I know. I am doing things, I know I am, and the family is helping each other to get through this, but I want to be able to just snap my fingers and make it all okay. I just want fix everything, because I’m unrealistic that way. And the fact that I know I can’t drives me nuts. But, as someone once said, every little bit counts.
I also owe it to Patton Oswalt’s Netflix special (Annihilation) for the words that have helped keep me sane recently (and by “sane”, I mean I’ve been less cranky, and this close to calm.)
It’s chaos, be kind.
Words said by his late wife. And while the words are few, those are words that zap you straight on the forehead. Because that’s it, that’s life, that’s humanity. It’s all chaos (Murphy’s Law, I’m looking at you, twerp), but it would be a whole lot bearable if we were all kind, not just to each other, but to ourselves. And that’s how I’m trying to apply it to myself. That is, I’ve gotten better at not blaming myself for things I can’t mend or control.
It’s chaos, be kind.
Unfortunately, thinking of those words also reminds me of something else I heard that left an impression. There are some taking advantage of the chaos, packages in the mail have been broken into, stores have been robbed, people have been taken advantage of…and while part of me would like to have those people in a room and, well, the rest doesn’t need to be said (I am an enabler of imaginations), to them I also say, “It’s chaos, be kind.” (You turds.)