As a (heretofore) lifelong Chicagoan, I haven’t had to contend with much in the way of natural disasters. Sure, we get a few tornadoes, furious winters, and what I am led to believe are nearly universally horrific sports seasons, but we are generally shielded from catastrophe. I’ve never experienced an earthquake, a mudslide, a significant flood, a tsunami, a nuclear disaster, a civil war, a particularly bad break-up, or a hurricane – until now.
I know, I know – there was an earthquake last week. But I was safely in Tirana, Albania and felt the quake’s impact only on my facebook mini-feed, which indeed indicated significant tectonic unrest. Imagine, if you will, my envy upon reading dozens of pithy status updates about a wee-but-noticeable earthquake that I missed. After my survivor’s guilt began to ebb, I had to admit that I was bummed to be left out. Provided that no one was hurt, who wouldn’t want to say they experienced a quake? I was shut out of the jokes – all alone with my outdated and unimpressive tornado stories, most of which involve me clutching my old teddy bear, Chocolate.
My track record, it seemed, was set to turn this weekend. The impending arrival of Hurricane Irene had me slightly excited. I have no affection for relentless doom, and certainly don’t want anyone to be hurt, but my weathered coastal friends assured me that this hurricane wouldn’t be so bad. Besides, the news stressed that it wouldn’t hit DC head-on anyway. Still, as my boyfriend and I biked to Harris Teeter on Saturday morning, I was exhilarated. The sky was grey enough that we didn’t need sunglasses, and the air was cooler than it should have been. We stocked up on not-so-essentials, and pedaled home just before the drizzle started.
We braced ourselves, and waited. We looked out the windows. We checked our Twitter feeds. We read the Washington Post. We fielded phone calls from worried parents (specifically, our own.) Finally, we went to sleep, and mentally prepared for an eyeful of damage in the morning. Except, there wasn’t. Not for us, anyway. That was it. A rainstorm. A not-even-that-bad rainstorm. And although the adult in me is relieved that the carnage was relatively mild, the kid in me, yet again denied an adventure, felt a bit gypped.
Irene had been downgraded by the time it so gently tiptoed through my neighborhood, so I still can’t honestly say that I have experienced a hurricane. Still, I am very fortunate that Irene was not too serious, because somewhere in a hypothetical other-world dimension comprised of “things that easily could have happened, but didn’t,” there is a hungry and confused Natalie floating somewhere in the Potomac. And, against all odds, she is on fire.
The trouble is, my capability of surviving an actual natural disaster has been called into serious question. The only items I really remembered to procure on my own without Mike’s assistance were Cheez-Its, wine, and an issue of Us Weekly. As it turns out, these items alone do not ensure human survival. Indeed, you will need at least several trashy magazines to get you through a tropical storm. I only bought one, and I found myself reading a single sidebar about Kim Kardashian’s wedding costs three separate times. On the plus side, the fact that we forgot to grab AA batteries means that, in the event of a power outage, I would not have missed out on unread celebrity news. On the downside, though, it is worth noting that my concerns regarding a potential loss of electricity hinged not upon questions like, “how will I feed myself if both our microwave and electric stovetop are kaput?” but more on “how will I put my make-up on without the bathroom light?” Furthermore, I still have not received an adequate explanation on what exactly those alleged sandbags were for, where they are, and why we needed them. I prefer to envision them superstitiously hanging above entryways, like garlic in certain folk traditions, keeping the hurricane at bay.
Broads of the Beltway would like to send out positive vibes to those who were in any way negatively effected by Hurricane Irene, and we hope that any issues are resolved soon. In the meantime, I personally will be quietly devouring the junk and canned food amassed in preparation of Mother Nature’s wrath. (Confession: um, there is really not that much left.) I will also stow a bit away, just in case the hurricane is tricking us and decides to turn back around…with a fierce vengeance, JUST WHEN WE LEAST EXPECT IT.
…that might just be its plan. Hurricanes do act like villains in Wes Craven movies, right? If that is the case, I can’t shake the worry that I’d be the busty blonde whose character is only tangentially related to the plot. I bet she would have only bought one celebrity tabloid magazine, too.
- An unscathed Natalie