Where Do We Go From Here?

I have said it here in so many ways – but I have always had a natural disasters phobia.

It’s sort of ridiculous. Not that I have it, but that we don’t all have it, really. It’s ridiculous how many times I’ve had to face my phobias – through earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes – but some phobias are fun to meet and beat, and others probably never will be. Unless the success of NOT having a panic attack is fun for you. It’s always fun for me to overcome.

I don’t like to lose control, or to have never had it to begin with. Roller coasters are (mostly) controlled. Hurricanes are not.

I have quivered my way through my share of disasters, and I have slept through some too. I guess it depends. When you’re me, and you’re already working through so many issues and fears within the frame of your own life, it’s sort of staggering to work through your own issues against the backdrop of uncertainty and enormity. You know what I always do, though? I rise to meet and beat and defeat. And when it’s so much bigger than me, and it’s always bigger than me, I’ll never stop trying.

Now is the time, and it’s always been the time, and it won’t be the last time either.

I wrote this post over six years ago, after my town was hit by Hurricane Irene:

There are reasons I live in New England.

1. Moose
2. Real maple syrup
3. Greenery
4. Vermont Cheddar Cheese
5. Feeling somewhat safe from the apocalypse

We have proven over the last few months that we do get tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes, and sometimes all of the above around the same time. And I’ve probably proven to you that I’m an anxious person. I do fairly ok in these situations.

I’ve been through four earthquakes, that I know about. I didn’t even notice last week’s 5.8er but I probably would have had I not been distracted. Before that I slept through one in San Francisco that Cassidy noticed. Before that I experienced one at work in San Francisco, staring dizzily at my fork clinking on my plate of quiche, not quite realizing it was an earthquake until after it had passed. And before that, there was a minor, minor one in Jersey when I was in college and I woke up with a start at 3:00 am and watched my old clay figurines shake on my desk. Why I woke up with a start to the most minor earthquake of my existence yet slept/distracted myself through three bigger ones? Who knows.

I’ve been through a rare New Jersey tornado, huddled in my grandparents’ basement.

I’ve been through a strange tropical storm in New Brunswick, NJ that canceled two days of classes, when not even snow had ever canceled college classes. Only September 11th and this strange tropical storm canceled classes.

I’ve been through a few major blizzards, but they never seemed strange because they always happened in places that expect to get blizzards. Blizzards are probably more deadly than anything else I’ve been through, but I was the least scared.

I’ve been through the nearby explosion of a gunpowder plant – a deadly explosion that took place on a painfully sunny day in the summer. This was way before the days of internet, cell phones, and social media, and no one knew what had happened for over a day. The rumor was that it was a sonic boom, which we all took at face value until we learned the truth.

Now in our age of over-information, we sat glued to the news, Facebook and Twitter for the last several days. We bought bottled water, filled the bathtub, gassed up the car, took out extra cash, charged our cellphones, and sat and braced for the worst. It may have seemed like overkill, but I guess after Hurricane Katrina, it’s better to take these precautions.

My town, Northampton, put up a flood control gate for Hurricane Irene right at the bottom of our street. I admit I thought they were being silly. Of course, they knew what they were doing. Last night we watched the news and watched “Doctor Who.” I was nervous. We went to bed tentatively glancing out the windows and listening to rain, and then woke up nervously today to discover that New York City had made it through and the storm was coming for us next.

I won’t downplay anything. New England is fairly safe and our earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes (but not blizzards!) are rarely very bad, but I know a lot of the east coast took some hits. I know those hits are still coming. We didn’t even realize our own town had had much of a storm until we left the house. To us, it was a fairly normal rainy day. We suffered no damage up on the the hill of our street. Then the storm passed, the sun even came out and we went exploring.

This is the other side of the gate at the bottom of our street. It seems that the bottom of the street got hit a lot more than us. They were right to put up the gate. We just didn’t know until we knew. This water is dangerously high.

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We even played outside with the neighbors. The sun was shining and the air was crisp and fresh and unexpected.

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They don’t even really know what has happened, but we do.

I’ve had a heaviness in my heart and a sick feeling in my stomach all day. The horror stories of Vermont, a place of heavy meaning to me and also a place I’ve always associated with safety (despite the horrendous blizzard I survived there). Seriously, Mother Nature means business. No matter how minor the natural disasters I’ve been through were, they were still disasters. Yet, I was never very scared before, except for the tornado incident but that’s another story. Mainly, I was not yet a parent. As a parent, all bets are off. I will never laugh at the over-preparation and I will participate as much as possible. I am forever humbled by this experience, and we didn’t even get hit! We could, in the future. And I bet we will.

May you all lie down safe and dry tonight, and always.

I’m linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday or #FTSF. This week’s topic is “When it comes to natural disasters…” And there’s time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.

What would you say?

Won’t You Take Me Back to School?

Seriously, be prepared to be cuted-OUT in this post. Adorability is at 100% capacity.

Also, seriously, be prepared to take a trip down memory lane with the inspiration for the title:

It’s amazing how much it both hurts and uplifts to see these photos. I have a lot to say on the matter, but unfortunately it’s all locked in my head without the proper ways to say it. In Doctor Who, the Matt Smith Doctor (I saw him in PERSON last month!) once gave a speech about regenerations, that I compared to parenting. The doctor regenerates and he’s still the same person (Time Lord) with the same loved ones and memories, but there are differences too. Different faces and spaces.

Ages and phases, personalities and quirks. And it’s like how you’re handed a new child at various points of your/their life. The child that you know 100% of the time becomes someone you hold less and less. The changes are rapid at first – through the minutes of the days of the weeks of the months. We measure those moments. We have to, lest they slip through fast.

Which they will, anyway.

Somehow it’s not all sad. As Matt Smith’s character said, “It’s ok. It’s all ok.” Maybe it’s even great – this privilege to hold something in your arms and help form it just so, and it takes on its own creation anyway, but your handiwork is imprinted through every cell and every fiber. It’s all ok. And maybe even great too. Somehow it’s not all sad, and somehow you don’t mourn the losses as sharply as you could, because instead you focus on what you gain – what you’ve gained, and what you’re gaining. It’s like losing your child over and over, but each time you get them back with a slightly different face and attitude and personality, but 100% fiercely them just the same. Closer and closer to what they could and can and should and will be.

It’s all Time Lord magic, I tell ya!

Boy, I have wanted to say THAT for a long time. Perhaps another way that parenting has hit me the most, other than the above thoughts and the breathless kind of love that leaves you gasping and confused and overjoyed and crawling on your knees on the floor, is.. drumroll.. something you already know.. and that’s school. I never thought I’d be hit with the changes and transitions the way I have, but it’s the start and the end of the school years that get me. They get me! Not in that good kind of “Hey, I got ya girl” getting, but more in the, “I’ve got you by the throat and the heart, and I’m not positive you’ll survive” kind of getting. Do you know it? You might not. It’s my own special brand of terror/joy/human.

(Scarlet took this photo!!!!)

For a kid who used to get nervous when they changed the TV guide or Sweet Valley Twins formats, I have zero idea how I survived these hurdles so well when I actually WAS a child. Sometimes missing an old life or a person, place, or thing is so overbearing like a dark hollow in my stomach and my heart. If I try to talk about it, I can’t breathe. If I try to write about it, I can somewhat succeed, but often it’s like I have built a fuzzy coating around it and I nearly can’t access it. That’s how strong it is. It’s so strong I can’t even access it. I might feel indifferent or just numb. Sometimes that’s even a luxury.

It gets me in the spring and it gets me in the fall. I rather settle into summer and winter. They’re less transitional, don’t you think? Here I am, though, when my life topples suddenly out of place, I put it back together as best as I can. Then it happens again, and I patch and stitch it back together, but not in the same way. It’s a new way to embrace and learn and find the grooves and the comforts. It changes and some parts are familiar and ancient, and others are brand new. Like a patchwork sweater, I learn to wear it old & new, and find all the ways to let it hold me as I pull it closer and closer in, and all around.

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So what I came here to say (and went in another different direction/regeneration) is that Wednesday was Scarlet’s first day of school! It came so fast and completely smothered by other things in my life, like work and more work and even more work, and probably some other stuff too, but it’s almost like I have accepted that this is my new life. When summer started, it was overwhelming to me that suddenly the kids were home a lot and I’m still trying to build full-time work. Now everything is different, but I’m trying to build myself around this new start too. I’m not the one starting school. They are.

So basically if you’re looking for me, I’m editing photos, starting a new job, at the helm of a busy blogging season, dealing with huge house renovations starting next week, watching the chickens squawk at me, or trying to wrap my head around double sets of paperwork and school menus and schedules and conferences and concerns. It’s a lot. It’s a good lot.

Des starts next week! These days of our lives! Wheeee!

I’m linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday or #FTSF. This week’s topic is “When it comes to back-to-school, I think…” And there’s time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.

What would you say about back to school?