(Note: Writing humorous essays involving hurricanes during hurricane season is insensitive, reckless and ill-advised. The author recognizes this. She is currently planning a series of pieces on drunk Santas, so clearly has no perception of social boundaries. She feels awful about this.)
September is underway, another school year has begun, and I, along with legions of my writing peers, had planned an annual ritual dripping with nostalgia: a poignant, amusing column on the back-to-school miracle affecting anyone past the age of … back-to-school, waxing poetic about sharpened pencils and fresh lined paper. I had even undertaken a project to empathize with my kids’ hours of mind-numbing boredom during less than interesting academic subjects. (FYI, I intended to study a topic about which I have absolutely no curiosity whatsoever, find chillingly dull, and causes my eyeballs to melt from lack of interest: What to Expect When I’m Expecting. This took much consideration. My list also included Other People’s Drug Trips and Hedge Funds. Also note— it’s very difficult to think of things about which one doesn’t give a hoot. It’s elementally counterintuitive.)
In any case, my crisp autumn-lust metaphors were ready to flow when the impossible happened. I was swept into the path of a hurricane, literally and figuratively, and any trite observations on saddle shoes took a back seat to trite observations on fate.
Bermuda is a slice of paradise in the North Atlantic, 640 miles from Cape Hatteras, N.C. I’d heard tales of Bermuda and both its natural beauty and man-made luxuries. I found myself headed for the island(s) for a lavish family wedding along with 40 or so of my favorite relatives. Also headed for the area, with the same estimated arrival time: Hurricane Danielle.
Let’s cut right to the chase here. If I were sitting on my couch watching CNN coverage of a hurricane-ravaged resort community, following the plight of tourists who had flown in for the event, I would utilize colorful language to describe their sanity and/or intelligence. Counter that with the guarantee that to forego the trip because of “a little weather,” as my extended family members were describing it, would invite public mocking for the foreseeable future, to my face, and in the case of divorce or death—behind my back, with continued gusto. Apparently I was the only person involved who gave the then-category 2 storm a second thought. Apparently I was the only fan of 1970s-era disaster movies, because I immediately cast myself in Hurricane Wedding! with Charleton Heston and Shelley Winters. And apparently, due to my hysterics, I would perish first as the twitchy in-law, swept away to the strains of “Celebration.”
Forging ahead, I prepared in every way I could: re-filling all legally available prescription relaxants, obsessing over Internet storm updates, and crying at stop signs. I thought, “They can’t make me go!” stomped my feet and slammed doors. But picturing the people meeting us in Bermuda, their blanket dismissal of Mother Nature’s alleged ability to crash the party, and the respect I have for their hardy and unstoppable demeanor in general, I considered that for once maybe I was wrong and everyone else was right. (This led to more crying, because while I may have been wrong once or twice in my life, I certainly never admitted it before.) Little did I know how wrong I could be.
The flight to Bermuda was problem-free. The weather there was perfect, with minimal wind and rain. I discovered an untapped talent that had lain dormant for lo these thirty years—standing in a pool drinking Piña Coladas (it turns out I am quite gifted in this regard and willing to tutor others). The flight home was equally uneventful. Danielle was a bust and I emerged unscathed, tanned, and proven wrong. The only tragedy I suffered were the nachos at the Fox Sports Bar at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
How is this an observation on fate? How can this non-story possibly sideline what surely would have been a fantastic swipe at soppy bookish reminiscences? In addition to confirming my melodramatic nature, I learned something about myself: I do not take chances. This might be a shock to those who know me, or know of me. From all outward appearances I seem like a real nut, but there you have it. I am outing myself as a non-risktaker, and won’t take it sitting down (as would best befit my former non-risktaking self). I will stand and fling myself into all oncoming hurricanes (albeit figuratively from now on) because that’s where the Piña Coladas are. And by the way, don’t expect anything when you’re expecting—it’ll probably just be a baby.