Friday, September 3, 2010

Goodbye, Earl

It was the summer of 1994. We had just moved to Pensacola, FL, from Puyallup, WA. I don't remember the day, exactly, but I know that I was one of the few people not glued to my television as the LAPD chased a former football star in a white Bronco. I was too busy watching my Dad and our new neighbors swim out into the Bay after the end of their dock, which had broken off in Tropical Storm Alberto. All things considered, the storm was a small one. I remember standing outside, watching the frenzy of the waves, feeling a savage joy as the wind wove my hair into elf locks.

The first time I saw a hurricane warning flag was on the University of Miami campus, where I was part of the Band of the Hour. (Fun fact: I am on the game tape for the Orange Bowl Parade and half-time show for 1995. For whatever reason, the camera operator decided it was time for my close-up.)

The next summer, there was Hurricane Allison, which I remember because I was wearing my Hurricanes sweatshirt when I drove to the grocery to pick up bottled water, and a guy asked if my name was Allison . "You look like a hurricane," he said. There was also Hurricane Erin, who, the day before my parents were supposed to close on our new house, put a 200 year old pine tree through the roof of that new house like a toothpick through a marshmallow. She looked like a hurricane, too.

Earl came through today. Yesterday I watched them move the boats in the marina, and I brought all the furniture and plants off my deck. Today, there was rain, but not much. The sky burned red this morning, and bruised purple just now as the sun set, but we were lucky.

When I got my acceptance letter for the University of Miami, the place I wanted so badly to go (I thought, you see, I was going to be a marine biologist), it was one of the happiest moments of my life. I remember that evening, seeing my AP US History teacher at a basketball game, and telling her, "Mrs. Gould, I'm a Hurricane."

"You always were, my dear."

I hope I still am.