Just write. And go visit Heather, because she’s awesome.
And also? If you could ignore the fact that half of this piece is in italics for no reason, I’d be grateful. Something wonk happened and I tried to fix it in the normal ways but it didn’t work and I thought about worrying about it but then I remembered that this is Just Write.
I am so lucky.
So very lucky.
Who knew that last week’s Just Write about a scary, sneaky, whiplash-speed storm was only the the beginning of something much, much bigger?
How smug was I, confidently assuring those children that all would be well? How easily did I dismiss their alarm and concern?
Why did I assure them that they were safe and that, if anything, the only insult they’d endure was a pair of soaked sneakers?
Do children have that same spooky instinct–that same sixth sense–about storms as animals do? Those 7-year olds howled and shrieked and paced and worried. They knew something wicked this way comes, but we of large stature shook them off.
We of large stature be morons.
I thought about this, as the waters clashed and bellowed through the streets of my hometown, overturning cars, washing away homes, splitting highways in half and extinguishing human breath. How did they know, those kids? How did we, the people who promise to protect and care for them, get things so wrong?
I’m not sure why.
But I’m telling you, those kids knew. They did.
I’ve been thinking (almost constantly) on it, and all of my hypotheses are wobbly and most likely blarney, but my racing brain won’t stop..For days, I’ve paced in front of the television news and filled containers with currently uncontaminated water and phoned loved ones about their well being and studied routes out of town. I had a lot of race time. I thought about animals and the eerie way they can conjure a storm hours before humans bear witness. We’ll catch our furried or feathered brethren acting skittish or downright nuts, and laugh at them, but we’re the fools. Animals know things on different levels because they can’t talk. They learn to trust their instincts, to hone them, because they have to. Life depends on it. If you think about it, kids aren’t much different. Children do, eventually, possess the power of the spoken word, but even when they can speak, do we really listen? How many times do we ignore or pacify or shut down what they say? More than we’d like to admit, I gather. So kids, like animals, focus on other senses–and those senses become taut and strong and muscular. Speech doesn’t serve them well, so they turn to other means. And we big, brawny bastards just keep chattering away, oblivious to what’s really happening, impressed with the sound of our own voices. ….. Told you it was probably bollocks. *Yet another awkward segue* I don’t have answers but I know that over 500 people in the flood zone are still unaccounted for (current figure). I know that kids my girls sit next to in school and jump rope with at recess don’t have a home any more. The parents of those children don’t have jobs any more because their place of work no longer exists–it’s rubble running down a stream somewhere. Stores are dangerously low on bottled water and roads are impassible. Some people have raw sewage (that be shit water, folks) shooting out of their sinks and toilets and bathtubs like a Yellowstone geyser. And then there’s us. I saw a farmhouse just down the street that is no longer…there. Seriously. But us? We still have power. We still have water we can drink and warmth and dry blankets. An accident of geography. Of elevation. Of…heck, I don’t know, but we are somehow spared. Somehow, I get to be the lucky, selfish bitch who wrings her hands because the kids have a week off from school and major roads are impassable, so everyone’s climbing the walls. People are sleeping on the floors of shelters and churches and I’m praying the power holds because otherwise, I might have to light candles and play CandyLand or (the Horror!) Monopoly with the little one. I am that lucky, selfish bitch. And I’m so grateful.