Thursday, August 31, 2017

The golden afternoon

"Well, they tried so hard to hold him
Heaven knows how hard they tried
But he's made up his mind
He's the restless kind."

The governor called.

His name was Harvey.

I got a reprieve.

While the surrounding areas were pummelled by hurricane force winds and relentless rain, while rising rivers and overburdened levees terrorized residents along the Texas coast, I got a little more time at home.

Hurricane Harvey crashed into Rockport as a Category 4 storm and swept slowly over southeast Texas, hovering over Houston for days, deluging it with record rainfall, flooding homes, closing roads and businesses, filling hundreds of ad hoc shelters, doing billions of dollars of damage, and leaving thousands homeless.

We were so, so lucky. Except for one evening when the onslaught of rain caused our street to stop draining and water to come up over the curb, we never felt very much at risk.

We were in a voluntary evacuation zone. This meant:
There is a chance that surrounding flood waters may hinder your ability to get out of your neighborhood. You may be stuck in your neighborhood for several days
OK, I could deal with that.

Eventually, as roads flooded, we lost the option to leave. We were told this:
Citizens should now stay home and be prepared to ride the storm out until flood waters recede.
And that's what we did.

We didn't lose power, except briefly, so we had all the comforts of cable, internet, Netflix and even the treadmill.

Food was a bit of a bummer. We were leaving so we'd already been trying to eat what we had in the house and hadn't bought many groceries recently, nor did we think to stock up while it was still possible, on the day we landed or the next day. We thought to get the AC in my car fixed, but not about bread, crackers and cookies, let alone water, flashlights or candles.

We didn't need the latter, but we sure missed the former. We had a couple of reasonable dinners, frozen ravioli and mixed vegetables with butter, leftover ravioli in chicken noodle soup. Then we made do with boiled eggs, carrots and rice, filling but not really tasty or satisfying. The worst was macaroni and cheese with tuna, generally a staple here, but not very good when made with vanilla yogurt instead of milk.

And now the sun has come out. We picked up some groceries, but no milk, the dairy shelves were bare. We have bread, crackers, deli turkey, plenty of snacks and sweets and some backup coffee, just in case it takes longer than we hope for the roads to drain.

Everything hinges on the roads. Our movers have to be able to pick up our furniture. Once we know when that will be, we can rebook our cancelled flights and make a new plan.

I'm guessing that won't be until next week, although we may hear something sooner.

Right now we're in this queer sort of limbo. I don't really mind. As you know, I usually hate limbo land, but with people facing waterlogged homes, loss of possessions, and potential displacement for extended time frames, a little delay and uncertainty is nothing.

See, it's not always all about me.

Although to be honest, sleeping in my own bed, chilling with Neil, being well fed and reasonably entertained, well, it's less a hardship and more a gift. A gift in more ways than one. After this, I think I may be ready to go. Almost.

Certainly, I don't care to weather any more storm threats. Yes, I know, that's a pun, but not as bad as the one by the newscaster who described the situation as fluid.

While the link between this particular hurricane and climate change will undoubtedly be hotly debated by more knowledgeable minds than mine, there's a convincing school of thought propounding that warmer ocean water contributed to Harvey's atypical rapid acceleration and dismal watery consequences.

Whatever the reasons, it will take a very long time for this city that I have lived in for most of my adult life to recover. The horror of Harvey will be branded on Houston indefinitely, the way Katrina will always brand New Orleans. And that's assuming there won't be more storms, more extreme storms, to follow as the sea heats up.

So, soon we'll close the door on this chapter of my life. The furniture will leave. We'll fly to North Carolina and sign off on the new house, have our new bed delivered, buy a new coffeemaker, and start the settling-in process. We'll fly back, pack up the cats and the very last few bags and boxes. We'll back out of the driveway on our 1,100 mile pilgrimage.

And about 2.5 hours in, we'll see Texas in our rearview mirror.

I'm still anxious and sad, but the time has come. The sea is boiling hot. Almost. Almost.

You've seen him leaning on the streetlight
Listening to some song inside
You've seen him standing by the highway
Trying to hitch a ride

Well, they tried so hard to hold him
Heaven knows how hard they tried
But he's made up his mind
He's the restless kind

He's the wild age
He's the wild age
He's the wild age

Wild age
It's the wild age
And the law can't stop 'em
No one can stop 'em
At the wild age

Mostly when the reckless years end
Something's left to save
Some of them keep running
Till they run straight in their graves

To stay the wild age
Stay the wild age
Stay the wild age
Wild age

(Warren Zevon)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz