[Warning: This entry is darker than my usual fare. It also makes heavier use of expletives.]
I fucking hate hurricanes.
That seems like a pointlessly true statement: who, exactly, likes them? Jim Cantore, maybe (but probably not). It keeps part of the NOAA in business. Sociopath televangelists who “believe” that hurricanes are messages from God to repent our sins… much like the message that insists you call the 1-800 number emblazoned at the bottom of the screen to help fund their war against gays and the IRS.
It’s all well and good to wish (or pray, if that’s your thing) that a hurricane not make landfall at all, that it spin out over the ocean and mostly wish ill on pods of whales, but the moment they near the shore and start their unwieldy, unpredictable devestation, everyone’s plea becames: not me.
There’s the rub, though: isn’t everyone making that plea? Everyone except Jim Cantore, of course, who has to go drive out into the middle of the damn thing, who is probably just going let’s get this over with so I can get dry for a goddamn change.
Hurricane Florence came aground this weekend; I spent a large portion of last week doing preparatory work for the event. The fridge was filled, the shelf overflowed with Essential Hurricane Snax™, the spare bathtub used for the first time in several years in case I needed to bail water into the toilets so I could flush like a normal human being. Stacks of books teetered on my couch, my Kindle Paperwhite charged back to full, crappy knockoff Yankee Candles squatted on the vanity in case the power went out and I had to take a leak in the middle of the night.
In the end, it was a non-event here in Lenoir. Lots of wind–at times it felt like my house was about to take flight, a puddle-jumper take on The Wizard of Oz–and sporadic bursts of fine-drop rain that ended as abruptly as they started. It’s easy to feel happy, even weirdly put-out: I did all that work for this? Summer afternoon cloudbursts have been scarier than this shit.
But: New Bern. A mother and child dead in Wilmington because of a tree that crushed their house. In many places, the rivers continue to rise. The flooding’s not over yet.
Not me, them.
Let’s pretend for a moment that I’m actually a competent human being, that I was actually as well-prepared for the situation as I could be. I mean, it’s not that far-fetched; I’m from Louisiana. I have memories of sitting wrapped up in a blanket on the covered porch of the house where I grew up, wet and getting wetter by the moment, while Hurricane Andrew dumped its trillions of gallons of water over southern Louisiana after it had decided that destroying most of south Florida was just not quite enough death and destruction. This wasn’t my first major storm.
What if I could have, somehow, made the storm come this way?
What about everyone else in the area? The people who weren’t as well-prepared, due to lack of diligence, lack of knowledge, lack of money? How is that fair to them, just because I can handle it?
So: not me. Let it be someone else, let the next town over have the long thin scar of the tornado, let the catastrophe be cozily distant, abstract and on the other side of an OLED display. There is no such thing as a fair share of misery, so let mine be smaller, let my wishes be granted more often than those of the people sixty miles down the road, wishing just as fervently. The equation is there; lives will be lost, homes destroyed, families shattered. Just: not me.
I fucking hate hurricanes.