Hurricane season has commenced. And I have a confession: I am a storm chaser.
I don’t drive through hurricanes … helicopter into the eye of a storm … or lash myself to piers that snap like matchsticks in tropical storm gales. No, nothing quite so dramatic or daring as that.
My symptoms are far tamer: I provision. I hoard batteries, candles and bottled water. I make soup. Secure deck furniture. Fill up my gas tank. Check in on family and friends.
I live in the Piedmont region of North Carolina – a long 200 miles from the coast. Not a geographic zone that gets targeted often by Mother Nature. But…
You can never be too prepared. Or can you?
I can’t help myself. At the first sign of a storm – be it snow, sleet, rain or wind – I become one with the Weather Channel. I know my zone. And yours, too, most likely.
If I hear a clap of thunder, I run from room to room, shutting down computers and unplugging the more expensive electronics. I charge iPhones and tablets. I fill tubs so we can flush toilets.
I am an earnest studier of surges, shears and jet streams. Categories one to five? Don’t even try to quiz me. I will rattle off wind speeds and water temperatures – and differentiate between U.S. and European models for good measure.
To those who mock the heroics and histrionics of Jim Cantore, I say back off, haters. He is superman in a slicker. A weather god in galoshes. Zeus wielding thunderbolts. (I know it’s an unhealthy, codependent relationship. He is a panic enabler and disaster dealer. But I just can’t get enough.)
Tropical depressions have a perverse effect on yours truly. Maybe it’s the abundance of positive ions in the atmosphere, but I become charged up like Doppler radar, blinking and beeping and ready to rescue. I’m rolling tarps, charging batteries and cooking up the entire contents of the freezer on a gas grill. Good times!
I love Christmas – a lot. Yet I’ve never felt the need, as others do, to visit the mall on December 24. But you can bet your 25-pound bag of de-icing salt that I’ll be at Home Depot on the eve of the first frost – and then headed to the grocery store to stand in line for milk that will sour and bread that will mold. I may be small, but steer a wide path if you see me coming. Because I will wrestle you to the dairy aisle mat for the last carton of organic 2 percent.
I’m not proud of my obsession (though I may be just a tad smug about my stash of sterno fuel, canned beans and granola bars).
Judge all you want, free-spirits who host hurricane happy hours and paint the ‘Bring It, Rita!’ signs. Go ahead: dance in the rain – ride the rainbow on your unicorn. But we’ll see who has the last laugh when the transformers blow and your party grinds to a dark and dreary end.
The hand-crankable lantern you scoffed at? I’ve got one and a spare. Ditto the floatable weather radio. In tough times like these, Nervous Nellie suddenly becomes Everyone’s Favorite Neighbor.
But I digress. And, like the industrious ant who taught the chirping, napping grasshopper a thing or two, I have chores to attend to.
The barometric pressure beckons like a sultry siren. And I, weak and wanton human that I am, I cannot resist the insistent summons to stock up, batten the hatches and shelter in place.
You know how some folks experience sympathy pain? The power of suggestion – just the mere mention of the latest, most obscure ailment – manifests in a sudden onset of spurious symptoms?
That’s me with meteorological conditions. I have ‘storm by proxy’ disease. An empathetic ailment that turns me, a safe and secure East Coast suburbanite, into a raft refugee racing tsunami waves.
Trust me, it’s a thing. Last year, after consuming a noxious amount of Hurricane Harvey coverage (or what I like to call ‘cozy time with Cantore’), I ventured out of the house, into Carolina sunshine, hoping that the roads would be navigable. It took me more than few minutes and a click of my ruby rainboots to realize I wasn’t in Houston, Texas. I was home … on dry and stable land.
That’s not something I share widely, by the way. ‘Storm by Proxy’ isn’t recognized by the medical profession – yet. But I’m coming out of the closet (middle of the house, no windows, crowded with family and pets) to advocate for those who suffer and storm-chase in silence.
Let’s just say I have a big heart, and I want everyone under my big umbrella: Flooded Floridians. Tornado Alley families huddled in basements. Pacific Rim islanders watching tidal waves heave toward them. I’ve never been to the Lesser Antilles or the Leeward Islands – don’t know a soul there. But, if they’re being pounded, I’m prepping!
Now, I’m humble enough to admit my weakness and seek help. I want to get better, I really do. But the storms keep coming. Clouds drift. Forecasts shift.
And as much as I pledge to turn off the T.V., and vow to my family that I won’t bring another candle into the house – my stash of orange vanilla and lavender-scented assurance gives me away. Hurricane season? Bring it on!
Lucinda Trew writes, worries and dances in the rain in Weddington, N.C., where she lives with her jazz musician husband, two dogs and a cat. She is an award-winning executive speechwriter who enjoys writing in her own voice now and then. Her work has been published in BluntMoms, The Mighty, Charlotte ViewPoint, Vital Speeches of the Day and Fredricksburg Literary and Art Review (upcoming).