Waiting for Hurricanes For most of my adult life, I’ve been waiting for hurricanes. Sometimes, while watching the news from a hotel far away, but usually, in my house, surrounded by lanterns and water bottles, a mobile phone, a bin of batteries, and my anxious thoughts. The bird feeders, nest bottles and wind chimes have been hauled to the garage, the potted plants shoved against the back wall. I fill the bathtub, arrange the bucket. The lanterns are all LED now, and they reveal my delusion of keeping a clean house. The sky has a greenish cast, and I can smell the hurricane as it approaches. The power goes out, and I wait for the sound of limbs hitting my roof. After the storm, I will haul limbs all over my yard; maybe I will wait for the roofer and the tree removal crew. The power will come back on, and then it will go out again. Next week, I may do it all again. Waiting for hurricanes is a way of life that suits me more than I care to admit. For as long as I can remember, I’ve lived in the Cone of Uncertainty, wondering which part of my patched-together existence may collapse—knowing that when part of it does collapse, the world doesn’t stop. My shelter is flimsy, even when I think it can withstand a storm. Some things can be replaced; some cannot. Loss occurs every moment, but we do not notice because the eye of the hurricane is over us, lulling us into our false beliefs. But those of us who know hurricanes, those who have lived with them for decades, are not fooled. We know that the most beautiful, the most established, the most cherished structures can be wiped away with one strong wind, one eight-foot surge, one accident, one divorce, one election. And so we wait—with our water bottles, our lanterns, our batteries—hoping for the best, but knowing that we are not in control, and that we never have been.
Diane Elayne Dees is the author of the chapbook, Coronary Truth (Kelsay Books); she has two other chapbooks forthcoming. Diane, who lives in Covington, Louisiana, also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that delivers news and commentary on women’s professional tennis throughout the world.