While I did drink more than usual this last week, I actually didn’t suffer from any alcohol hangovers. What I’m experiencing now, however… the fatigue and overall struggle to keep my shit together… is making me think I have a hurricane hangover.
I wrote a nice, long post while I was in the midst of the experience that Irma was….just as I was giving it a first editing browse my app crashed. It wasn’t even the power going out yet! I was hunched over, sitting on a cooler so I could keep my phone plugged in (precious, precious battery life while I could still have it!) and trying frantically to find a draft…surely it saved a draft!? Strike one, Irma. It probably had nothing to do with you at all but you’re taking the blame for this one. I can still feel the energy and intensity of the storm but I will probably never be able to recount it like I had done while sitting there in the moment. The power did go out about 2 hours later. I remember realizing that the sunlight that was left wasn’t actually going to help us since the windows were boarded up. It may as well have already been midnight. Time for flashlights. I don’t think I thought about the lost blog post for the rest of the storm…
My first hurricane was intense. Mostly because of the unknown. We had been following the saga of Irma – the largest hurricane out of the Atlantic ever – on all the networks. The Weather Channel had the entire country glued to the adrenaline that we were in the thick of. I was feeling every ounce of the storm energetically. The weight of the stress doubled when I considered protecting my 10-month old. Then tripled with my husband out of town. (Yeah, yeah, we’ll be married soon enough…). When the power went out we lost touch with the direction and pace of the storm which had been moving like molasses and expected to pick up the pace when it made landfall… and where would it make landfall?!? We were right in the path of the storm as it was….would it change now that we weren’t watching?
After a candlelit dinner we all basically agreed that it sounded like a really nasty snow storm outside and went to bed.
The next morning proved that storms do pass, just like everything else in the world. The authorities cleared the bridge to our little island by mid afternoon and we were headed home under partly cloudy skies. We heard there was no power, but needed to see what had happened for ourselves.
Trees. The storm gave the trees a run for their money. A beautiful, old banyon tree fell across the street just before the grandparent’s home. They will be without power for a while. Another beautiful banyon fell in our front yard, narrowly missing the house but blocking our driveway. There is also a large pine in the back yard leaning towards the power line. We don’t have power either. Luckily, one of the grandparent’s rentals does have power so we have a place to stay where we can cool…. both our bodies and food. No TV/wifi (#firstworldproblems) but things are slowly starting to feel normal.
I’m feeling incredibly lucky that we weren’t in the direct path of the eye of the storm. We were so close and I’m still not sure how or why she moved inland the way she did…sparing the entire Tampa Bay Area from mass destruction. I am so saddened when I see the damage done in other parts of Irma’s path. When I left our home on the island I basically expected the very worst. I had to in order to make the decisions I did and bring the things that made sense. It was so likely that we would be displaced for a while… potentially a very long while. I was ready to get good at being a minimalist.
There are so many people facing those circumstances right now, it becomes difficult to complain about where I am currently:
Even without power and a tree blocking my house, I still get to be steps away from a soft surf. We didn’t lose any possessions to flooding or winds. We didn’t find uninhabitable structures when we returned. We have a roof over our heads and a fridge to keep our food cold. I can’t complain.
So why the hurricane hangover??
Well, honestly, it doesn’t feel so bad at the moment. Writing about it and getting myself to the beach to listen to said surf has eased the pain considerably. Gratitude has a way of transforming my attitude. So does nature.
It’s important to recognize the emotion that is coursing through my veins, though. This has been an extremely taxing week of unknown and my body is requesting my mind to be patient with it. Patience can be fleeting in a case of emergency. Almost like she was riding the winds of Irma like a kite surfer. The winds have calmed but the angst was built up enough to last a while. As we put back the parts of our life that I dismantled in order to save from flooding, I must also decompress from the stress that built while life was requiring all of my courage, calm, flexibility, wits and, well…patience.
Preparing my family for complete devastation and loss was a new task for me. Amongst all the other new tasks I’ve encountered over the last year, this one takes the cake by far. I’ve needed a lot of decompression time over the last year as well. It kinda makes sense that I would need it now. It also makes sense that it might take a minute to feel normal again. We don’t even have power yet… nothing feels normal when it’s this hot. We are still sharing space and living out of suitcases. The baby, while an absolute delight and huge trooper throughout, isn’t sleeping well and therefore neither am I. We aren’t eating the most nutritious food but we’re keeping the beer cooler stocked. It is now safe to resume wedding planning but there are a lot of people out there still trying to get back on their feet. The world feels like it’s standing still for us, but I’m perfectly aware of how much is actually going on out there.
In the end, all I can do it stay strong. A friend just texted me: “stay strong, normalcy is around the corner.” It is. I know it’s true.
I speak often of not being able to pour from an empty vessel; how important it is for me to fuel my soul. A hurricane hangover is no different of an obligation but I might use a differ analogy.
When the power goes out in a boarded up house, you want to have the brightest flashlight. Batteries get used and flashlights grow dim. We must either replace or recharge those batteries in order to have enough light!
Sending love and light out to those who were less fortunate than us after hurricane Irma. I can only imagine the emotional rollercoaster you are experiencing. I hope to eventually be strong enough to take part of the burden for you. Stay strong. It may not be as quick, but normalcy is around the corner.