Saturday, December 27, 2008
Boy in the Hurricane
While visiting my Grand Ma Normal Family's house for Christmas, I stumbled upon a journal entry I'd typed on her computer in September of 2004. At the time, I was sixteen years old.
My family and I had surged northward with millions of others as the second hurricane in a month battered our region, and we didn't know what would happen on our return.
The abandonment of Central City, that glittering cosmpolitan metropolis of the Deep South, remains one of the defining memories of my adolescence and of a formative era in my life.
What I recall most about that time is the incredible fear and loss that befell us, and the way that the kindness of a cousin turned what should have been a terrible tragedy into a treasured experience:
September 7, 2004
So much has happened recently that I barely know
where to begin. On September 2nd, a Thursday, we fled
our home in Deep South State, running from the
potentially apocalyptic Hurricane Frances. Grand Pa
Normal Family, after a noble struggle, had died only
three days earlier, on August 30, 2004. He was born on
October 1, 1942, and was only sixty-one years old. We
drove all of Thursday and arrived at my
grandmother Normal Family's house in Native State
on September 2nd.
The drive was a long and tiring one, an endeavor
that we partook only because all flights out of Central
City International Airport had been snatched up in
the evacuation mass hysteria. It was so sad when we
got here. Sweet Aunt was calmly talking with me
when, all of a sudden, she burst into loud sobs of
anguish. I hugged her awkwardly, not really knowing
what I could do or say to make it better. The only idea
that entered my mind was to hold her tight;
sometimes words just can't heal emotional wounds
and physical comfort is the sole remedy. On the
evening of the 3rd, Aunt Crazy and Uncle Responsible
took Powell, Thomas, and I to stay with our cousin
Cool Cousin at her house in the country. What fun we
had there. It was really a welcome break from the
tragedy engulfing the rest of the family.
On the night of our arrival, Cool Cousin took us to
Blockbuster and we rented a whole load of movies to
watch and scare ourselves silly with. The next day,
September 4th, was a busy one. In the morning we
went to Washington, D.C., visited the Capitol, and
toured the Spy Museum, where we got VIP service. After
the museum, we went to lunch in Washington. We
returned to Cool Cousin's house and were joined by
her friend Weirdo, who then accompanied us to Navy
City for sushi, which was delicious, nay, exquisite.
When we got back to Cool Cousin's house, we decided
to tell ghost stories in the apple orchard out back. So
we ventured out into the night air, Cool Cousin and
Weirdo donning coats, and slowly rambled our way to