Tag Archives: florida

Tropical Storm Trepidation

26 Aug

I’m sitting at this computer with a sinking feeling in my stomach. It’s like a swallowed a bowling ball whole, and that bowling ball happens to be filled with nitro glycerin. You could say I’m a bit nervous.

“True! Nervous, very very dreadfully nervous that I was and now I am, but why would you say that I am mad?”

I’m not mad. Not insane. I’m being driven insane by memories though. Memories of the last time this sort of thing happened to me. The wind, the rain, the sheer power of God.

I live in Tampa. Within the next 24-36 some-ought hours, a hurricane is supposed to give us a glancing blow. People aren’t too scared about that. That scares me; not in the sense that their lack of fear gives me dread, but it makes me worry about their safety. It’s like they don’t remember. I can never forget.

For those who are suffering amnesia, let me remind you what we’re dealing with. A glancing blow from a hurricane isn’t like a glancing blow from a street brawl. The arm of some thug can only cause so much damage. The capacity to create chaos and suffering is nearly infinite and entirely inherent into the nature of this beast. A glancing blow from a hurricane is like getting a “glancing blow” from a .50 caliber bullet shot out of a rail-gun. For those of you who aren’t up to date with advanced weaponry, a rail-gun can shoot a projectile with enough force to literally ignite the air around it. You don’t need to be in its direct path to experience its wrath: just close enough. And I don’t fear, I know that we are within that danger zone.

I’ve lived through one of the worst summers on record. Unlike most, I don’t suffer from any sort of amnesia. The terror of those storms were too awful for me to repress.

The winds howl at your door like a pack of snarling wolves. It looks for every crevice, every entrance, and tries to force its way in there. Actually, in that sense, their more like the goddamn velociraptors from Jurassic Park. It never seemed to hit the same spot twice. It was sentient and looking for the structures weakness with ruthless determination.

I’ve heard people say that the rain is God’s tears. Not in a hurricane. It’s less divine, less positively charged. It’s an invading army that is unable to take casualties. My roof was burdened with their footfalls. The stomping, constant march of our impending demise. There were times when I thought we could die there, huddled in my parents’ closet. I knew that all buildings had a weakness. Between the rain and the wind, I was sure that ours was being exploited.

We were in the eye of the storm once. The eye wall crashed into us without any regard to mercy.  But we were still in one piece. We were outside, enjoying the first bit of light we had seen outside of the constant barrage of lightning. The sun was warm, the breeze calm. It was almost implausible to think that we were still in danger. We were young. We were playing in the sunshine. A cry came across the lake from our neighbors. There arms were waving. We waved back as we laughed, thinking that they were just enjoying the reprieve.

“…ado”

“What?!” We yelled back. We were confused and getting a little frightened. Their arms weren’t casually waving anymore. It was panicky and rapid. They were trying to warn us of something.

“Tornado!”

My eyes widened. We looked out into the impeding gates of Hell and there it was. Like Cerberus, hungry, vicious, awful, powerful, and piss-your-pants-without-giving-a-damn terrifying. We rushed inside and hoped to God we wouldn’t be sent beyond Oz. There’s no place like home, and that storm wasn’t intending to send us to munchkin land.

I remember another time, looking out at the storm as the first arm was approaching us. I was young, but I was already jaded to normal fear. I stared on with eyes devoid of feeling. I wasn’t afraid. And that’s what was truly scary. I wasn’t afraid because I knew. That time I just knew that we couldn’t possibly get so lucky again. Our house had come through unscathed every time. Our neighbor’s though, many of them weren’t so lucky. I’d seen buildings leveled from wind alone, others trampled by rain, and others still obliterated by lightning and thunder. I knew that life was just a game of chance. Run the gauntlet enough times, and everyone’s survival rate will drop to zero. I wasn’t afraid. My terror had evolved well beyond that.

The storm looked like something that had burst through my nightmares. I could see bloodlust in the eyes of the howling wind, steeled deliverance in the steps of the rain, and I saw the awesome power of Hell reaching out to drag the remnants away and pull us down to our fate. I called for my dog and we walked inside. I told him everything would be alright. He was smart. I could tell he knew I was lying.

Somehow, we were lucky again. Somehow, we came through ok. But again, I know far too many people who didn’t.

And here we go for the next go ’round. Another “glancing blow;” but my psyche is already battered and bruised. I know that we won’t get the full brunt of it. It’s wrath is directed away from us, for the moment. Somehow I know that this is different from the tropical system we’ve already had this year. I ran in that storm. I enjoyed the wind and rain. That storm was weak, it was almost like a warning shot. But this is a different beast, evident by everything about it. It is not here to give us rain like the last storm. It’s not here to be an inconvenience. It’s here to remind us all that in this state, the gates of Hell are a constant presence. It’s here to remind those who forced themselves to forget that some terrors can’t be ignored. That sometimes, God feels it necessary to draw blood.

That is what has me afraid.

Advertisements