She’s 31-years younger than me, but even so, this lovely child looked down at me (at 49, I’m a freakish five feet tall) and told me she wanted to be me when she grew up.
Poor, disillusioned young thing.
I looked up at her; stood on my tip toes to touch her cheek maternally as if to emphasize the sage wisdom I was about to impart, but all wizened comments were foiled by a cramp in my calf, an obvious electrolyte imbalance.
Cursed, cursed aging!!!
She then dealt the final blow by telling me that her mother used to love my FM morning show antics and would have our show on the car radio when she’d drop the kids off at school.
Elementary school, thank you very much.
I am a Southern woman by way of Texas and I was raised as such. That means, regardless of the situation and the embarrassing levels it might reach, we’re taught to be gracious. Always.
I thanked her and limped away. I drove home feeling old, but okay about it. Does that make sense? You see, I’m grateful to feel anything.
Permit me to explain.
A major hurricane just blew through Houston and vicinity and decimated so much of Southeast Texas. It had been 25 years since hurricane force winds blew through downtown Houston. With our complacency now gone; we no longer feel impervious to nature and many are walking around as if we’ve been ‘fragged’; shot by our own troops.
I had some property damage, but it’s minor at best. My satellite dish– I swear, has teeth marks on it and as a result, I don’t have TV. Well, that’s not entirely true. I DO get one channel, but it’s Lifetime Made For TV movies. And this cruel restriction my friends, is a fate worst than death for thinking women. Sorry, but it is. Imagine, all Markie Post or Valerie Bertinelli, all the time. And every title of every “movie” includes two words. As far as I can tell, that’s a “Lifetime” law.
“Stormy Calm” and then there’s the rare, “Donna R: Portrait of A Teenage (insert malady here)”
Since Ike blew through a week ago, living in Houston is like living in a Communist block country. There’s a curfew that’s strictly enforced. You have to present credentials and proper I.D. to justify being in your neighborhood past certain hours. Few restaurants are open and those that are, have a limited menu. There’s still no power in over a million homes and those that have it, have it intermittently. Phone reception is spotty; there are long gas lines; long food lines…little ice and very little patience left among the populace.
Life is reminiscent of a fascist checkpoint without the Adolph Menjou character in a Nazi uniform. It is inconvenient and annoying and there’s also an emotional toll, even for those affected peripherally.
Few people are sleeping. I know I’m not. I don’t have much of an appetite; my hair looks like hell and my skin, which now–after all the stress–looks like an aerial view of a flesh colored relief map of Appalachia, but I’m still here and much better off than so many people in Galveston and other beach front communities and surrounding counties which took the full brunt of the storm.
Don’t worry, kids. This will be my last storm post. But in the meantime, please indulge me…I’ve got to get this out of my system.
Hurricane Ike took so much from so many people; it stole lives–the authorities say it’ll probably take years to properly determine the exact number of lives it claimed; most of which were swept out to sea by a vicious storm surge; and Ike also ruined lives. My heart goes out to the victims; they’ve nothing left. But you see, I get it now more than ever; I understand what I didn’t during Andrew, Katrina or even Rita for that matter. I got it by watching the recovery struggle of “the never hads” and those, who by virtue of this horrific storm, have now been made, “the have nots”.
Hurricanes always damage more people than they do buildings, but I never noticed it–not really. Before, these people and their plight were just news stories to me; things which I blithely reported. Hurricane Ike was different. I lived it. I live it.
There is physical and human devastation all around me. So, as I sit in my well lit home watching the movie, “Stormy Love” on Lifetime in air conditioned comfort, I realize that when the winds blew fierce over Southeast Texas and took so much, they actually gave me something…gratitude for what I have and humility for what I don’t.