When I was younger, hurricanes were a common theme in my writing. Growing up along the Gulf Coast, hurricanes and fear of them affected my childhood in a meaningful way. Like many others, I write about what I fear. After adolescence, for many years I lived outside the hurricane belt of concern because I studied and worked far from the Southeast. I tracked hurricanes through the beloved landscape of my childhood from the desks of my adult work spaces, glued to my cell phone used to check on loved ones. Then, for ten years, there was nothing much to track. I forgot about them. They seemed only a distant memory. I started to drift back to the places where they could touch me again. First to the periphery – DC – then a little closer – to North Carolina – then closer still – to Macon, Georgia. When we moved to Macon, I was thrilled to find myself only a six hour drive from my beloved Gulf Coast and only a two and a half hour drive from the islands of Georgia’s Atlantic Coast. I had forgotten all about the fear that these seemingly placid waters could invoke. Even today, with the weather here deceivingly cool, autumnal, and perfect, it seems as if I am not supposed to know that there is something menacing headed this way from the Atlantic. Were it not for modern satellite technology, none of us would have any clue.
We live in a old house, with single-paned windows, some cracked and in need of replacement. Will they be strong enough? The ancient magnolia that shades the back of our house, will it be strong enough? What about the pines and oaks that frame our home? What about those beautiful eucalyptus trees that don’t belong in Middle Georgia but that delight my olfactory senses every morning? I don’t know. I haven’t weathered any storms here. The age of the house tells me that we should be okay, as it must have weathered strong storms in its past, but there never really has been another quite like Irma. Granted, we live very far from where this storm will make landfall (where it will have truly devastating consequences), but if it rides up the spine of Florida, up I-75 we will get directly whatever is left of it, and all of my questions about the relative strength of my new surroundings will be answered.
I want to leave. I want to seek out the same safety that I knew as a child and flee to my parents home in Mississippi far from the core of where this storm is going to go, but David, having never experienced a hurricane, doesn’t think that is necessary. I hope he is right. As for my part, this hurricane is making me feel like a child all over again, and that worries me even more, because I know that I have to be the adult and protect my own children this time around. I have to provide for them the safety that my parents always provided for me. The responsibility of being the responsible one in a hurricane is not one that I have ever known, but I hope I am up to the task.
I hope that this storm will underwhelm and all of my fears will be misplaced. In particular, I hope it doesn’t do to Florida what I fear it may do. I hope too that my fears here in Middle Georgia, far away from its landfall, won’t be realized and this hurricane can just be relegated to the mausoleum of memory with all of the others.