It happened faster than we thought it would. I mean, I guess that’s how these things work. You hear the weatherman talking about how bad the forecast looks, you pack a bag just in case, but . . . I don’t know.
About a year before the storm, I got in a pretty bad car accident. Everyone walked away fine, but I totaled my car, the airbags inflated faster than balloon animals, and an ambulance came—the whole thing. I don’t remember much of what happened afterwards. Everything that followed the crash blurs together.
But I do remember one thing. I remember the moment right before our cars collided. And I remember thinking two things: this is going to happen, and there is nothing I can do about it. Up until that last second though, I thought I might manage to save everything. I slammed the brakes and jerked the steering wheel, but none of that mattered. In a split second an inevitability turns into a reality.
When the storm finally did hit us last week, a tree fell into our living room, and at the time, I thought I could do something to rescue everything. I picked up the kids in both arms, grabbed the bag—we had joked around while we packed up our valuables, can you believe that?—and took off toward the back of the house. Then came this crash of thunder so loud I thought someone had detonated a bomb. In that split-second, an inevitability turned into a reality.
The situation had still felt controllable—the wind shook the house and the rain echoed in every room—but it still felt okay. We still felt safe. But that explosion of thunder . . . when the nights get truly quiet, I can hear it ringing in the back of my ears.
I don’t remember much of what happened after the tree became part of the kitchen. Everything that followed that blurs together. We somehow got out of the house and waded our way up the road until a stranger rescued us in his boat. I got so wet that day that my bones felt soggy—like sponges that would never fully wring themselves out. Sometimes when I take showers, the water dripping off my forehead brings that feeling back. I take shorter showers now.
But I think about those moments—moments when you know something will happen, but it hasn’t happened yet. The split-second car crash. The long-awaited storm. That already but not yet when the inevitable still feels avoidable. How do you live in that space? I think common wisdom would tell you to just accept the happening, but . . . I don’t know?
Cover image by Riccardo Chiarini.