25 September 2005

by the sea

Tonight the ocean is 200 feet away. We watched the orangey sun set on the water, then my mom made a great spaghetti dinner and we sat on the deck, listening to the waves crash while we ate. Afterward, we turned off all the lights and sat out under an inky sky full of billions of stars, the salty wind sweeping across our faces.

I welcomed the peace and quiet.

Obviously, I made it through Hurricane Rita unscathed last night, though I will say that the experience was a bit more unsettling than I expected. She woke me from a shallow sleep at 1:30 AM, whistling through the trees outside my bedroom window. I was restless for the next several hours. I kept creeping over and peering through the blinds. For awhile, the trees jutted back and forth like a clock pendulum, and the wind sounded eerily foreboding. Then suddenly all of it would stop, and there would be total stillness for a minute before she whipped through again. After an hour, I saw a spark and the streetlights went black. When I wasn’t at the window, I was under the covers, drifting in and out of odd, fragmented dreams, most which involved the hurricane, and waking up to hear pinecones pelting the roof. I kept wondering if the trees were swaying in the direction of my bed, so then, like someone with obsessive compulsive disorder, I’d hop back out of bed and look between the blinds again. And so it went.

Today I was groggy, so I went to my mom’s house; she was making coffee with a pot of water and some Sterno. She lives only a mile or two from my dad’s house. When I got there, we learned that her weekend beach house down on the Gulf actually had electricity, and no hurricane damage to speak of. We made our way here this afternoon.

After prying boards from the front door and windows, we came inside to discover cool air, working lights, and a small scorpion that had crept into the house for shelter from the rain.

I was reminded tonight, as we sat in our deck chairs, how much I love the combination of chilly night air and a dark sky dotted with layers of stars. It takes me back to those mountaintops in Colorado when I went to Young Life camp in high school.

We sat in silence for a long time in the dark, just listening to the waves…until my mom broke the quiet to say how nice it would be if we had some hot fudge sundaes to complete the bliss.

Tomorrow, we’ll head north toward home again and hopefully the hospital will be letting visitors in again so I can see my dad. They sealed it off the day before the storm came.

I really wish Jeremy had been here tonight. He’s out playing shows. He would have liked the spaghetti, and this peaceful house on stilts with its colorful paintings and large hunks of coral used as bookends. He also loves the stars as much as I do, and out here it’s like having a planetarium right in your own backyard. Except this backyard also happens to have an ocean.

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