Friday, May 11, 2012

Selected Entries: August 2004

In August 2004 I was sixteen years old and had just moved to my glamorous new home in Deep South State. My relationship with my parents, fractious at best during most times, was entering its brief golden stage, as in contrast to Anne, with whom I'd just spent the summer, they seemed much more tolerable.

Unbeknownst to me, I was also embarking on what would be one of the most turbulent few months of my life--so turbulent in fact, that in my personal history the era would later be named the Time of Tumult. Natural disasters and a succession of deaths in my family made this a difficult few months. Of all the Selected Entries I have posted thus far, this one is most worth reading. 

This month's Selected Entries starts in July, when I arrived in Central City.

July 29, 2004

According to the woman on my left, we’re now above the Growing State coast. The plane is three miles up and, because it’s a bit bumpy, my handwriting is messier than I would normally permit. The couple next to me is amicable, friendly, and, in the case of the wife, just a tidge bit pleasantly eccentric. It’s really beautiful in the sky, but I’m excited to land and be reunited with my family.

July 31, 2004
When we got to the garage in the airport I was shocked by the heat. After the exhausting enterprise of carrying two suitcases in such boiling conditions we got into Mom’s new car and drove home.

When we arrived there was no one there, as Powell had gone to the movies with First Twin and Second Twin (who are visiting), Pie was at daycare, and Thomas was with Mom at his karate class. 

Dad went through the garage but rather than follow suit, I waited for him to unlock the front door. Call it silly or superstitious, but I wanted to start this off on the right foot, and I certainly wasn’t going to access my new home through an out-of-the-way side entrance. I stepped up into the house and felt awe. The windows were beautiful, the ceiling twenty feet high, the sunlight filtered in just the right amount to gorgeously illuminate the interior.

August 9, 2004

Today was my first day of school at Central City High, and I loved it. I rose at 5:30a.m., showered, and ate a bowl of Cocoa Puffs. When I first got up, though, I drank an entire cup of cranberry juice, which I’ll be sure not to do again s it caused my stomach considerable distress. We have six, no, seven periods here, a big change from Beautiful Town, where we had only five. The classes were really short, only about fifty minutes each. I’d only just become acclimated to one when another would begin!

First period was Spanish III with Ms. Spanish Teacher, who is by far one of the coolest instructors I’ve ever met. My Anatomy Honors teacher is a chiropractor who insists on being addressed by “doctor.” My English III Honors instructor, a twenty-something woman named Mrs. Negligent, is a cheerful woman who shares my low blood sugar and offered me some food whenever I need it. My AP European History teacher scared us all with his description of a college-level course so difficult that barely anyone pulled a B. The other kids in my AP European History class are so smart that I’m worried about not being able to keep up. We’ve begun our first book in there, called A World Lit Only by Fire, which we have until Labor Day to finish reading.

August 12, 2004
 Hurricane Charley is moving towards Deep South State. Our schools have officially been closed for tomorrow, and there was a bit of a panic at Central High today. A sort of mini-storm (Charley, Jr., I like to refer to it) hit the high school at the end of the day, reining in quite a pandemonium, indeed.

It began to pour heavily during seventh period, and, while there was a supposed “lull” in the storm we were dismissed about ten minutes early to reach our buses. Unfortunately, the “lull” was anything but and when we emerged from our portable it was into a world of wind, rain, and thunder. The maze of portable classrooms was made even more complex by the tangle of children fleeing to the breezeway, the giant enclosure upon which our entire school centers.

The breezeway itself was actually worse, with students running en masse for the few exits. Periodic screams pierced the din of rapidly conversing voices and pounding feet. As I looked to my left a surge of slipping, sliding, soaked humanity made its way across the school, some walking, many running, all frantic.

In front of the school were some fifty buses (forty-eight, to be exact) that wait daily for students to embark. In the rush to get there, though, many were hopelessly out of place and a multitude of students couldn’t locate their number. This caused a good deal of running and yelling as the thunder steadily increased. It was at this convenient moment that a large thunderbolt chose to hit the school grounds.

I happened to be in the perfect spot to watch while the zigzagging electrical line wounds its way down from the sky and I was still standing there, awed, as it made contact, impacting the grounds with a sonic boom. There was a bright flash and the very earth beneath us shook. The occasional shout from the crowd was suddenly augmented to a simultaneous, wall-shattering shriek. As the air vibrated from the charge different voices could be distinguished rising up from the cacophony, some yelling for their friends, others just screeching.

I found my bus after a brief period of uncertainty and fear, boarding in my drenched attire and thus escaping the hysteria. Other dripping students joined me in this unlikely sanctuary and just about everyone managed to find our bus. When we got home, it was sunny. Hurricane Charley is expected to hit the coastal cities tomorrow, with Central City being affected only by its outer edges. I’ll pray for those people, but I’m just glad that it’s not us.

August 13, 2004
The sky outside is black now, at 2:49p.m. The wind is blowing fiercely right now, and we’ve lit candles to avoid using electricity. I don’t know for certain that we’ll live through this. Oddly, I’m not afraid. Faced with death, I know that God is there. If I am killed, He will take me up into Heaven, along with the rest of our family. I just hope that I’ve lived a good enough life, and I hope that I’ve been good enough for God. I know that I’ve sinned my whole life, but I do believe in Him. If we have to die, I hope that it’s quick and painless.
Our doors are locked and windows bolted. It is now just after seven o’clock, and Hurricane Charley is due here, full force, in three hours. I’m in my bathroom, which has no windows, writing this on the roomy floor of my shower. Naturally, the shower isn’t actually on. Going outside is unthinkable, and it’s now too late to heed the evacuation orders that many others abided by. Mobile homes (such s the one that my mother’s aunt, lives in) and prefabricated homes are under mandatory evacuation.

Contrary to what we believed last night, Hurricane Charley made landfall south of the coastal cities and is now on a collision course for Central City. We’re one of the fortunate whose houses are structured, that is, made entirely of solid concrete and essentially cemented to the ground. Our stone walls and ceilings keep out the Category 4 winds that would otherwise tear us limb from limb, but those living in mobile or manufactured homes are not so lucky; the storm will shred their abodes and their bodies to pieces.

We’re probably not in any danger…I hope. I’m glad that I’m here, though; if anything happened to Pie, I would want to be dead, too. Today, a Friday, there was no school, and a state of emergency has been declared in our county. 

August 15, 2004
A lung has been procured for Grand Pa and, as of 5:30 this afternoon, he began what promises to be a long and complex surgery. The attainment of the organ this morning has elated many disheartened spirits and answered innumerable prayers, not least of all those of my grandmother, who seemed like she was losing hope.

Grand Pa, you see, was tiring of the exhaustive struggles he faced on a daily basis, and earlier this week had refused to go back on a ventilator, asking only that he be given enough pain-killing medications to die peacefully in his sleep. This lung is, quite literally, a breath of life, both into him and into my frantic grandmother. I hope that the surgery is a success and that her yearnings for his recovery will be fulfilled. We won’t know until tomorrow how everything went, for, as I said, the surgery is extensive, and according to Mom it can last up to eight hours.

Mom and Dad are both thoroughly sick of the traffic situation here, which is quite impossible. Over half of the streetlights and stop signs in our county were either knocked out or rendered useless by the winds of Hurricane Charley. The rather obvious result is chaotic roads that are breeding grounds for accidents, there having been over two hundred automobile accidents in Central County yesterday alone. Central County students are now enjoying a five-day weekend, all expenses paid, courtesy of central Deep South State’s perilous roadways. That’s right, there’s no school on Monday or Tuesday, much to our adulation.

And, what’s more, Hurricane Earl is due to arrive here on Wednesday, which could get us off for the entire week!

August 16, 2004
Grand Pa’s surgery has had some complications, and apparently it doesn’t look good, but I believe that he will pull through. We have off of school for the rest of this week and next Monday. Classes will resume on August 24th. 

As if that weren't enough our dog, Millie, died this morning.

August 25, 2004
School started back yesterday, and I’m glad of it. Pie walked to me today!

August 30, 2004
Grand Pa died today. More tomorrow.

August 31, 2004
Grand Ma is hysterical, inconsolable, as were Powell and Thomas last night. Grand Pa’s death comes as a real blow to everyone who waited the years for him to receive a lung. Thinking about it makes me sad but I haven’t cried. 

As if Grand Pa leaving this world wasn’t enough, a massive hurricane, the Category-5 titan Frances, is headed straight for Deep South State. As of this morning it was on a course for eastern Central City (in other words, exactly where we live and our entire lives are centered), much to my dismay and internal agony. I prayed intensely last night and the Lord may have answered me, as the system seems to have shifted just a little bit to the north. I will pray more now and watch the news in the morning.

1 comment:

Just Me said...

2004 - Nearly 8 years ago. You seem like an entirely different person then Interesting to see these glimpses into your thoughts, but it's a bit disconcerting that it sounds like someone else writing them!