We watched the continent-size hurricane approaching the Long Island Sound on an 8×12 inch computer screen, the four of us huddled together on a love seat in Provence. We did not speak too much about It because you cannot have that what if conversation when the what if is too daunting and the outcome too remote to control from across the sea. So we continued our vacation as planned; we walked to the market, we took in the Architecture, we slept-in until noon, and we cooked fresh fish.
It was not until Sandy had done her worse, leaving behind a Sound overflowing like a forgotten bathtub with piles of sand burying sidewalks and overflowing onto roads, and basements full of water that one of us first said: what if the house was gone?
Eventually we received word that while power was out and the shoreline had been battered something fierce, the water stopped 100 feet down the road, the hurricane-proof windows held, the trees stood. Relieved, we let out a deep breath and started talking about the unmentionable Other outcome: all the back-breaking work, all the time, all the money, our home gone, What if?
Over two café crèmes, with the sun beams falling diagonally over the fountain in the Place Hotel de Ville and the gypsy music in the background and the instigator scooting in large concentric circles on the sparkling limestone freshly wet from the after-market-spray-down, we decided that it would have been fine. We would have been fine, even if It had happened. Home is us right now, anywhere, we said as long as we are together, but neither of us really believed it.
Some places just get under your skin, like people. Some houses comfort you like another member of the family and to say goodbye unexpectedly or prematurely is not only difficult but painful.
To all of those structures of memory that did not fare as well, my heart is with the families who are rebuilding, gathering, cleaning, sumping, or saying goodbye.
Today, I am grateful to our little house by the shore that held to its foundation. I have never been so happy to be anywhere as when I walked through the front door, weary and exhausted from my eighteen hour journey after three months abroad, to our little cottage, unfinished and glimmering like a promise.
I am home.
Maybe this is a reminder that we can feel in control of our destinies one day, and be tossed by wind and water the next.