My grandma called at 5:33 on Sunday evening. I was already perched on my couch, had been all day, squinting out the kitchen window as if I didn’t trust the tranquil trees to tell the truth.
“How are you, Kal? How is the hurricane?”
I’m fine. It’s fine. It’s not even raining yet. Just a little breezy.
I wanted to say that disaster is never real until it is too real. That there is nothing more unnerving than calmness before calamity sets in. That I have not slept well in three days because I imagine that sequence in Twister where the little girl watches her dad leave the cellar forever.
When the Twin Towers fell, I sat in history class huddled around a PC reading MSNBC.com headlines. When Osama bin Laden was killed, I ran downstairs to tell my roommate in the living room. When last year’s earthquake struck, I sat in the newsroom laying out pages with my co-editor.
I have never held disaster in my hands without someone sitting next to me, ready to relieve me from the burden.
I have done what I can, what the three-page document affixed to my front door has recommended: I have gone to Wegmans, carted a bottled water case up two flights of stairs, navigated Wal-Mart for the last flashlight in the sporting goods section.
I have no cooler, no ice, no plan for how to keep in contact with the people I love. Tell them that I am safe, sitting in the dark but safe, wind batting against my bedroom windows but safe, huddled in the closet safe.
When my grandma called, I wanted to tell her to leave—go anywhere but back to her family room with the Cherished Teddies in the windowsill, the stained glass lamps on the end tables, the big maple tree in the front yard.
I wanted to tell her to find someplace else for a while, someplace not sitting in the eye of this storm, but I didn’t want to scare her.
My life is in pieces, dotting the Eastern shoreline. And I know that in the stretch of time ahead, I will lose contact with some or all of those dots. And that’s scary.
Disaster is the ultimate loss of control. It’s the reason I’ve been on my couch all day, watching the scrolling text telling me who to call, when to be worried, T-minus how many hours until it’s all upon us.
I hope I never have to wonder whether we’re all OK. I hope days don’t pass without some small message of hope.
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