“The hurricane came and went.”
It’s the first line to a story I once wrote shortly after Hurricane Frances. It was 2004 and I had just broken up with my boyfriend at the time- a pot head Pakistani whose answer to our relationship problems was to take more MDMA, and who wouldn’t listen to me when I continuously told him that it was over. It was one of the most life changing hurricanes of my life. I had just returned from my first ever trip abroad, to Nicaragua, the land of my ancestors. In three weeks, I met a ton of new family members and learned how differently people live in other countries. I also met a man who made me realize how desperately I needed to get out of the relationship I was in. A man who we hired to drive us around the country. A man who happened to be in an unhappy marriage. I was 20.
That summer changed my life. I can’t say that Hurricane Andrew changed my life quite as much. I was only 7 years old that August of 1992 when the relentless 100+ mph gusts of wind knocked over my favorite tree in the front yard. But I still remember that night pretty vividly, considering it was twenty years ago. My parents hid my brother and I in the tiny closet of our one bedroom duplex. I had a lunchbox full of snacks. Fruit by the foot, gushers, possibly even a Lunchables. I read Archie comics with a flash light and my father stood guard in the room, walking out the front door every so oft to see what was going on outside. When the sky finally cleared up, it was beautiful outside. Blue skies everywhere. And we were without power for two weeks – which meant camping in our living room with no a/c and having cook outs with the neighbors on a daily basis. It changed my life too. It taught me not to fear nature. It taught me to care for my neighbors. And I started a new school that September and my life changed yet again.
I’m writing this sitting in my living room in a small apartment on South Beach, Miami, and my life is much different from those first two hurricanes. I’ll be 28 in another week and a half, and i’m pregnant with my first child – a statement and a reality I still don’t quite believe. My husband (surprise number two!) is contentedly slumbering in our bedroom. He is tall and freckly and has gorgeous eyes and a deep voice but an incredibly kind smile. He loves me more than i’ve ever known was possible. I still don’t know where he came from, but I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, so I accept his love and reciprocate it as best I can. My life is very, very different these days.
This is our first hurricane together and we’re as prepared as is necessary for a Category 1 storm. We’re not scared or worried. We have bigger concerns right now – like where we’re going to be living past August 31st. Our lease will be up and we haven’t found a new place to sublet. We were supposed to move away, but things are moving a bit slower than expected so we don’t know quite when we’ll be leaving. It’s strange to have “adult responsibilities” and “adult problems” and to, well, be an adult.
I’d heard tell from other “adults” that it would just sneak up on you but that you’d never really accept it. I guess that’s just how it is. I don’t even really know if being pregnant and married and living on our own and all that makes us adults. Maybe it has more to do with how other people perceive us. You start getting treated differently once you’re married and pregnant. Maybe that’s what being an adult is.
But that’s besides the point. The point is there’s a hurricane a-brewin right outside my window. I hear the gusts slowly picking up and then waning again. The rain drops sprinkle on our window and then pour down and then dry out. Life is changing. The hurricane brings with it new chapters, unavoidable rites of passage, place markers we can go back to when recounting our lives. Andrew, Frances, and now Isaac. I’m looking forward to it.