Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Own Private Hurricane


I’m looting my neighbor’s garden. Looting light, I would call it. Everyone has been evacuated and I’m one of the few remaining at the Jersey shore during Hurricane Irene. I grab a few ripe tomatoes, a batch of heady oregano. It’s all going to drown tomorrow anyway.

God, it’s so quiet and peopleless here! I’m reminded of my childhood on this island when time seemed slow and sleepy, like it does now. You could actually feel the place, the pulse, you know?

The tourists and most of the locals have left. Their hectic, greedy energy is no longer bouncing all over the joint, smacking me repeatedly in the face. Right now, all is still, all is mine. Tonight, when the storm hits, it will be another animal, no doubt. But for the present, I can think for once in a long time. Maybe I'm looting some much needed peace of mind.

After my garden thefts, I come home and sing really loudly in my room. This is nothing unusual: I sing any old time. But often I suppress my voice just a little when singing in this house, in this neighborhood. I know neighbors can hear me, or the people I live with. Today, truly alone, I set my voice free, like a dog unleashed on a sunny beach.

Walk around naked for a bit. That’s a given. Nudity is good and right. I don’t know what else to say other than that. Oh, and I found good porn today – not the crappy stuff that kind of turns you on but part of you is like “Yeah, right. You’re horrible actors” but you make do anyway. For my particular fantasy mindset, this porn fit just so.

My people, all the people, they keep contacting me and offering up their homes. Frustrated, I relay to them that I have lots of places to go thank you, but possibly not a place to return to. That's my concern.

Yet some friends have such earnest tones to their voice, it almost brings me to tears: a young surfer dude whom I didn't expect to be so worried. Or an old friend who keeps calling, even though we haven’t spoke in over a year. Strange, that they care so much. And don’t say, “Well, of course they do!” Because it’s not that simple. People care sometimes, and sometimes they don't.

Like this guy on the mainland that I've been seeing on and off, whom I didn’t hear from at all today. He checked in yesterday, via text, and asked me to keep him posted. An old, tired voice played in my head: “If you really cared, you'd call.” Like, fuck – if you don’t worry about me during a natural disaster, when would you, dumb loser face.

And enough with the texts already. Like when I'm being swept off to sea, I'll miraculously manage to shoot off the last text of my life:

Hey. I'm drowning. Need help asap. Phone not waterproof. : (

But yeah, whatever, fuck it. The perk of a natural disaster is that relationship minutia doesn’t have as much holding power. Something more primal is trumping it. And you're quietly grateful because that old bullshit teenager-level worry has been wasted too much space in your brain anyway.

Now I’m blaring some Led Zeppelin in my room. I ate a nice, fatty meal. I’m ready for disaster. Fattened up, rocked out, drunk and ready. (No, I’m not drinking that much wine and I resent your implications. I’m drinking just enough wine. Hurricane level wine.)

Hey, wait. Don't go. Yesterday, I pulled the veggies from my little garden so they wouldn’t go to waste. One small pepper plant had struggled all summer to stay alive. Teeny, meek little thing - the Charlie Brown Christmas tree of pepper plants. I thought she was a goner last month but somehow she managed to spruce up and eek out one small hot red pepper. I tried to pluck it but she wouldn’t let me; she wasn’t ready and I didn't want to hurt her. 

Today, I plucked her puny pepper anyway. Ah, so sad. Man, like this summer wasn’t hard enough on her: she barely lives and finally manages to produce this little runt of a vegetable and now she’s going to drown. Poor, poor fucking hot pepper plant.

Can you hear it? The wind is shaking my walls. It’s about 40 mph and soon will be 70 mph. I hope the glass in the windows doesn’t break. Because that will be scary. Because then the weather comes in and you can’t hide from it. It’s at your feet, in your face, bitches.

Wait, before you go...wanna hear a scary story? About an hour ago when the wind started kicking up, I ran around the living room, pulling furniture away from the window. Out of the blue (or the black), the doorbell starts ringing. And ringing. I direly hoped some brave soul was stopping by.

I ran to the door and peeked out; there was no one there. The bell kept ringing. The wind was blowing so hard, it rang the damn doorbell. How perfectly spooky, like the hurricane was paying me a visit, all proper like, but with a definite sense of urgency.

It’s going to be a long night. One of many long nights in this woman’s life. Peppers are spicy and glass is sharp. Looting is wrong, unless you’re in the mood and the pickings are easy. People show up, people let down. Tailormade porn and wine can be fun when you’re all alone. And sometimes storms literally come knocking on your door. That’s what I’m saying.



Anonymous said...

Beth - I hope you are doing well today! I really enjoyed reading about your hurricane experience. Living in Florida I have too many to recount. I'm glad you had just enough wine as that is right out of our hurricane playbook. BTW - glad you found some high quality porn! Don't be afraid to share!


Nancy said...

What a surprise...the storm wasn't that bad. But you're braver than me staying here in the face of it. I loved that line about having lots of places to go, but no place to return to (at least we hope it's not like that). Kinda sums it all up.
Here's the bigger surprise. My tomatoes are still on the vines. A little droopy those vines, but in a few days, I'll have Jersey reds from my garden. Maybe more cucumbers too. Glad to give you some...

Iris said...

Thanks for the photos and the great description of being solo on the island. It's sometimes the best way. Weird things happen in a storm. One night my car horn kept blaring away. Found out the moisture reconnected some wires - loud and annoying. I finally disconnected the damn horn. Never had a horn after that. Car passed inspection and I got away with it. Sold the car without disclosure.
Was in Philadelphia during the "so called" hurricane. They had the right idea. Some folks from New Orleans scoffing at our "little" storm had a hurricane party, lots of booze. Fun.