As I sit here, writing on a borrowed computer at my parent’s house after our mandatory evacuation yesterday (we live surrounded by lagoons near the Barnegat Bay), Lady Ms. Sandy, a.k.a. “The Perfect Storm” is about to officially arrive on our doorstep. However, her entourage has already preceded her: since yesterday afternoon, I’ve been looking at pictures of beloved Shore destinations being engulfed up by the storm surge, the bay soon to meet the ocean. It all seems surreal; last week we took the kids to “Chegg” (Chicken or the Egg for those who don’t know) on Long Beach Island, and now I am looking at pictures of Beach Boulevard completely underwater. As of this moment 80 feet of the Atlantic City Boardwalk is floating down the intersection Atlantic and New Hampshire Boulevard. I have been following a friend’s laments on Facebook as she watches her home on LBI via Internet pictures being swallowed by the storm as her 3-year-old keeps crying that he “wants to go home.” This morning, the National Weather Service issued this statement to folks on the barrier islands about leaving:”If you are reluctant, think about your loved ones. Think about the emergency responders who will be unable to reach you when you make the panicked phone call to be rescued. Think about the rescue/recovery teams who will rescue you if you are injured or recover your remains if you do not survive.”
I originally logged on to finish a freelance job: creating a database listing nightlife destinations at the Jersey shore. But I was soon haunted by the fact that so many of my listings won’t be opening for a long time…perhaps never again. So, oddly enough, I’m grateful to Sandy.
Grateful? Yes. That as I try to log on to make a buck, that she once again reminds me of what’s really important. Instead of a Sunday with to-do lists filled with forgettable activities, I was forced to prioritize my life yesterday. What do we take with us? What do we care about but are willing to leave behind to possibly be destroyed? How are our neighbors doing? Are they leaving like they were told to? Do they need help?
Grateful…that we don’t have to head to a public shelter, that we have loving parents who are sheltering John, myself, and our precious babies with a comfortable home inland. And feeding us-really well, mind you. With nothing to do, the conversation soon turns from the utilitarian “So what’s new?”, to more important matters: thoughts, feelings, memories, and sharing a deeper part of ourselves than our busy lives generally allow (including the holidays, where all the paraphernalia and preparations take up time and priority).
Do we worry about the damage to our house, maybe even wondering if we’ll have a house to come back to? Do we think about all of the wonderful places and people we’ve had the privilege of eating at and writing about and wonder about their future? Of course. And yet, Sandy is wise, if you listen to her, really listen. She tells me that no matter what she wants to gobble up, no matter how greedy she gets, she simply can’t take away the most important things: the only things that matter, in the end.
And Sandy also knows that all things must pass, including herself.
Stay strong and stay safe, my fellow South Jerseyans.