I felt calm as word of Irma spread. A need for supplies for when the power went off my only real concern. As the storm shifted back West I didn't think much would happen in our town. But Sunday turned to Monday and the storm roared on. The power went out and a tornado touched down early on Sunday night, causing me to stay up and alert all night in case another one came for my babies. As I stayed awake I scrolled through Facebook and saw the images of flooding roll in.
Two hurricanes crippling our small community in under a year really makes you realize how fragile and fleeting everything is. The storm came from the opposite coast and was significantly weakened by the time it reached us - yet it still took peoples homes. One day a storm may actually hit our beach town and it scares me to think if we will make it.
Our world has such an obsession with stuff. The irony of everyone - myself included - rushing out to stock up on plastic and canned goods while the biggest ever hurricane roared in the Atlantic is not lost on me.
In early 2016 we significantly downsized and left our house in suburbia for a small apartment on the beach. We sold our car and bought bikes. We tried to be mindful of our waste in all we did. Yet somehow/somewhere along the we drove ourselves crazy. It all seemed so useless, futile and overwhelming as we started to pay closer attention to all the waste around us. The world around us. Defeated we slowly caved to the convenient - and it became the overriding theme in our lives above environmentalism.
A few weeks ago I found myself 'homeless' - as electrical hazards made it necessary that I left our apartment before having a new living situation lined up. That week could easily take up 2093457 posts on its own - but one of the many disheartening things was no one would rent a small space to my children, pets and I. Everyone seemed to think they knew our needs better than I knew them - and we were too big of a bunch for a small space. When I ran out of prospects I called about a spacious house. I was given the green light to view it (literally none of the other rentals would even let me see the homes after they asked 'who all would be living there'). In the end we got the house- because beggars can't be choosers and not having our own space to call home or knowing when/if we would ever find a place was emotionally exhausting.
I have felt such mixed emotions since we moved in. Relieved to have a house where I no longer have to deal with cranky anti-kid neighbors sharing my walls. Thankful for a space where I could keep my yipping dogs. Excited for the space and to feel "normal" - like I "fit in" again. Even though we left our initial house intentionally, I somewhere along the line added the label of broke/suffering to myself. I could no longer relate to my friends with their big houses and random Target trips and somehow felt like a victim in my small space. Losing those feelings/labels felt good. Having a space where my kids could have friends over was also exciting. I felt proud that I was able to get such a nice home - and for the first time in my adult life - have my living space in my name.
But I also feel really, really guilty. Guilty because of all the moms, dads, humans - who bust their asses every day and still struggle. I also feel scared my business will flop and I too will be left to struggle. I stand in my new house and feel confused "Why did I give everything away and leave this life just to come back to it?" I keep wondering what happened to that motivation and desire to do better that I felt so strongly just two years ago. It is a beautiful home, and while smaller than many, it feels too big. All of our belongings fit into half of it. The kids bedrooms are bare. The main living space so sparse it echos as if no one lives there.
It's easy enough to imagine getting furniture to fill this space - but we lived with this amount of stuff for years and were more than fine. The idea of getting more to fill our home stresses me out. We don't need more stuff just because we have more space. . . I feel as though mother nature is trying to show us the way back 'home'.
After the storm the kids came with me to walk the dogs. They were in love with all of the nature that was at their fingertips. Their neighborhood looked less polished and more forest with all the fallen branches and trees. It was magnificent in their eyes. So much wildlife was out as well. I felt like Mother Nature was shaking me "Look! Look at how beautiful I am!". Shaking all of us. The kids played all day and night in her gifts - building forts with fallen sticks and chasing worms (and I sat with them writing this post by hand).
I had a weird dream last night. I don't remember much but remember the saying of "she did it out of love". We move at such a fast pace. Sometimes it's just easier to get the disposable diapers, dammit! But then something like this comes along and rocks your world and forces you to look at the choices you've been making.
We trash our planet, daily. Disrespect it, degrade it, and run it dry of it's resources- yet it still stands - providing us with a surface to walk all over. The devastation is real from her wrath; lives lost, many more in shambles. I am confident that our community will come together and hold up those in need like we did after Matthew. I just pray that we can come together and be there for our earth in the same way.
I don't believe in coincidence. This big house fell into my life against all odds. I am happy to share my space with a family in need. I have two empty bedrooms side by side if you know of someone looking for a place to stay.
Thank you Irma, for sparing my loved ones and re-shifting my priorities.