Hurricane Florence is poised to level most of coastal North and South Carolina with a combination of howling winds and an unprecedented surge of 80-foot waves. An air of existential dread blankets the Carolinas as evacuations are ordered. People are forced to grapple with the decision of risking their own personal safety on the off chance that they may be able to better save their possessions, or evacuating and leaving their material world behind.
It is a beyond difficult situation, but honestly, conversation with my family has never come easier.
You see, a hurricane means that there is always something to talk about. There are no lulls in a conversation that centers around the fact that we might all die. Is this morbid? Yes. But it is repairing my relationship with my father. My parents told me yesterday that they “felt the world was coming to an end” and I almost cried. That is what I’ve been saying for years! So glad that they are finally on board the existence-is-pain train.
My dad and I are boarding up our windows today. Going to Home Depot with him is something that I know he has wanted to do with me for years. The lumber section of Home Depot is my father’s Shangri-La. My father can only reach nirvana with the dulcet tones of a forklift backing up. Later in the day, I expect us to walk arm and arm together as we carry the last piece of plywood to board up the front door. I’m unsure if I will ever give him grandchildren, so passing him nails may indeed be the happiest moment of his life.
My brother is a doomsday prepper and we all laughed at him for it, until today. A former outcast turned prophet. A black sheep turned shepherd. We went from “Jesus Christ, why are you doing that?” to “Jesus Christ, thank you for doing that!” His preparation isn’t so much the miracle of “loaves and fishes,” but the miracle of “sardines in a can and black beans also in a can.” This storm has brought my brother out of the bomb shelter to face his family to then grab them and bring them back into the bomb shelter.
My mom is more than happy to have the whole family together huddled in the living room. With no sports to distract us, she is now able to mercilessly destroy us in games of Scrabble. An almost carnal pleasure consumes her as she puts down the back 7 letters on the word “Quizzically.” She had to use a blank letter for the second “z” and it has left us all with blank expressions on our face as we come to terms with the fact she is unbeatable.
The winds are picking up as I type this, and my dad is calling to me to get into the pickup truck “before all the good wood is gone,” so I must be going. I am hoping and praying that the storm is less damaging than people predict. But I am also optimistic that the winds will bring in more than, uprooted mailboxes and downed power lines. I think Hurricane Florence will usher in a new era of familial…Holy shit the oak tree just cracked in half. Ok, I got to go get my dad.