Storm Memories

AJ over at Two Coasts got me reminiscing about the storms I’ve lived through. My memories, like hers, center around the aftermath, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I remember the excitement and thrills more than the destruction.

When I was six, I was living on Saipan during Super Typhoon Kim. The storm itself is a flash of memories; hiding a Garfield book under my shirt as we dashed across to our neighbor’s house, wind, hot cocoa, more wind, windows breaking.

Oh, but after! After is vienna sausages under candle light, and sterno haute cuisine for a month. After is giant uprooted trees, and roots that transform into pirate ships for imaginative little girls. After is a tin hut magically transported into the tip top of a tree. After is plentiful fresh coconut water, and heart of palm. After is a beach strewn with detritus and treasure.

But most of all, after is the heartbreak of wet books. I remember a tarp laid out behind the house, covered in sopping books. My job, and a very important one for a pretty useless little 6-year-old, was to rifle through each book periodically to ensure that the pages dried without sticking together.

There were so many favorites that we had to throw out. For years after, I’d find myself craving a particular Piers Anthony book, only to remember its fate. I saved so many other favorites, though. To this day, there’s a shelf of M.M. Kaye novels down in the family room that have the slightly swollen look of a book that’s seen hard times.

Island folk are a special breed. We have a reputation for being laid back and relaxed, but that’s just part of the story. When the storms come, there’s no evacuation route. You hunker down as well as you can, ride it out, and pull things back together after. You’re constantly reminded of your powerlessness, and you learn to just sit back and accept the good times and the bad.

If that isn’t a lesson I need to remember right now in my personal life, I don’t know what is.

All this has nothing to do with the lives and livelihoods that will be lost and that my heart aches for. But, hey, way to make it all about me, right? And I love storm parties! Wish I was there, East Coast!

And in all seriousness, my prayers are with you.

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