Favorites? I dunno about that. It has been a rough week here in Atlanta. Not to say my first world problems are anything in comparison to the people who really experienced the brunt of this hurricane in Florida (including one set of parents and several college friends) or Harvey in Texas. Here at my homestead in the city, we were without power for 2 days and (worse?) Without school for 3. The aftermath includes not only cleaning up debris in the yard, but also making up for lost time and productivity during what became a 5-day weekend with late sleeping, donut eating, candlelight cocktailing and some intense denial of the reality that I was still technically working and having one of my busiest weeks in months. Along the way, there were a few high moments, some low moments and a couple lessons learned . . .
It Ain’t over ’til it’s over.
Well damn, if this wasn’t a total mind-f-uknowwhat. A normal storm in my neighborhood will knock out power in a heartbeat due to a line of trees out on the main road that are tall, unstable and precariously close to the above-ground power lines. Throughout the day, as I watched Facebook statuses from friends across the city populate with reports of power outages, I knew we would be next. But nope. As the wind and rain died down, it seemed we had survived unscathed. I got in bed around 11:30 and shot off a quick text to an old friend to reminisce about hurricane Isabel back in my Richmond days, when we bar hopped in the fan ’til the power went out and then broke curfew and (obviously, super safely) drove back to drop him off in church hill before heading back downtown with spy to a room in the Marriott, which had power. Aaahhh, youth. I turned out my light and snuggled down, secure in the knowledge that I’d somehow avoided disaster yet again. Not 15 minutes later, our alarm started making that weird noise it makes when . . . Yeah, when the power goes out. I should have known we couldn’t possibly be that lucky.
People are damn good.
I can’t even begin to list all the offers of help I either saw or personally benefitted from this week. Whether it was neighbors offering up tips for saving frozen food (or getting your insurance company to reimburse you for it), restaurants offering a free glass of wine and a kid’s meal or friends with power offering respite from the darkness and entertainment for a certain bored 7 year old, kindness and consideration of the greater good was all around us. When the Alabama power (yes, Alabama! And this guy!) Crew showed up to restore our power, my neighborhood of nearly 300 homes sprang into action collecting donations to send the guys pizzas. It was a beautiful thing. It’s good to remember that goodness is in all of us, even when there isn’t a natural disaster. Maybe we all just need to try and show it a little more often.
Cooler living leads to some interesting cooking.
I’m pretty proud of my hurricane prep strategy, which was basically to buy a metric ton of batteries and flashlights (which went unused are all going back to target this weekend), but no food. Once I realized we would be able to use the gas stovetop to cook, I kind of chilled about how I would feed my family if the power was out for a day or so, given how much crap is in my pantry and the few basics in my fridge/freezer. I generously broke the golden rule about not opening your fridge/freezer doors to pull out the most important items and put them in coolers immediately — mostly dairy products and meat. And we honestly didn’t lose much at all. Over the course of the 2 days, I re-introduced myself to my French press and all its deliciousness. I cooked a frozen pizza in a skillet. And I made a chicken, mushroom alfredo penne with some frozen leftovers and some items that needed to be used up anyway. There was an order of Thai food and a dinner out. And we ate almost a dozen donuts . . . Diet resumes tomorrow. Definitely not too shabby for hardship living and it made me think about how to use items in my kitchen in different ways, which was pretty cool.
Trees that get blown sideways don’t just pop back up when the wind stops.
I’ve never experienced anything like this. I didn’t even think the wind was really blowing hard enough consistently to do this to the tree in our back yard. Well, 4 days after the storm, the tree is in pretty much the same position. It’s not coming up at the roots. Its already crooked branches are all literally just bent sideways at some point that is too subtle to discern. Spy obsesses over this tree (that I honestly believe was just supposed to be a bush when it was planted 9 years ago), trimming branch by branch until it is just so. I’m not sure what it’s ultimate fate will be. The peach tree showed one sign of imperfection for about 2 seconds and became firewood within days. But I like to think of this one as a metaphor for how life experiences can forever change you. Sometimes you bounce back. Sometimes you just begin to grow in another, new direction.
There’s nothing like a break in the routine to make you appreciate the routine.
Nearly 24-hours in, we were enjoying porch cocktails by candlelight. Miss girl snuggled down on the porch with us and her iPad. School would be closed again the following day and pretty much all normalcy felt like it had been picked up and blown away by the tropical storm gusts. White rice and a fortune cookie for dinner? Sure! Sleep in the bed with mom and dad again tonight? Sure! Bedtime? What bedtime? There were no alarms, no hairdryers and no real reason to get up before the crack of 8:00, so everything felt just a little in a state of suspension. Nothing was really wrong, but nothing was really right, either. Waking up the morning after the power came back on was hard, but we managed to get dressed, get to school and get back to business. As much as I kind of hate that whole routine a lot of regular mornings, Thursday, I realized how lost I am without it and the order it brings to my days and the entire ebb and flow of life. We’re not perfect at bedtimes or vegetables or discipline, but living lawlessly for 3 days made me realize the importance of even the little bit of structure we impose on ourselves. And man, was I glad to have it all back.
If you haven’t yet done anything to help out the real victims of Irma and Harvey, here are some things you can do. There are a lot of folks out there who need our help to start growing in the new direction the wind’s bent their lives. Take care, everybody. And happy weekend!
Featured Image: REUTERS/Tami Chappell (REUTERS)