October Surprise

My sister and I weathered Wilma together in 2005. When a hurricane’s name starts with ‘w’, it means that the season has been very active as names are given out alphabetically. That year, ‘they’ ran out of letters and started using the Greek alphabet to name storms.

I’m waiting for Matthew. It’s interesting, because I’m scared, and I’ve never been anything but… filled with nervous anticipation before, through the 2004 season and Andrew and Gilbert and Wilma… But now I’m worried about glass breaking and electrical shock and, more than anything, water, water coming in without end, water everywhere, water.

Wilma left us without electricity for three, almost four weeks. ‘They’ had to reschedule Halloween, a thing that one wouldn’t think is possible until it happens. The kids are mostly too young (or weren’t here – many are immigrants like me) to remember how slow Wilma was, how dry, how cool and crisp and perfect the air was after with the smell of barbecued meat wafting around. They didn’t see how nice everyone was to each other, the way we shared our food, waited for one another the right way at dead intersections, talked to each other and smiled as we waited for the power to come back. They don’t remember how quickly the body adapts to sun up and sun down as cues to wake up and go to sleep, or how exciting it can be to go back to school after weeks of being at home with nothing to do but read (if there are books).

I remember wondering if the rest of the world knew what was happening here. I remember being very, very, very thankful that we weren’t New Orleans, that Wilma wasn’t Katrina, and thinking that this kind of waiting was just fine, but how long could it last?

And then everything went back to normal.

‘Normal’ sucks, but, if Wilma is a best case scenario of what can happen after a devastating storm, then Katrina and Andrew are the worst. And I remember the aftermath of Andrew. Only the foolish wish for hurricanes. If a hurricane is coming, it’s coming, prepare, but don’t wish for it.