Who Are Those Crazy People on the Coast?
My green CRV is a flood car. It was purchased at this time a few years ago when my blue Subaru was totaled in my driveway by being immersed in salt water. I learned one “dip” in the ocean and the engine is no longer reliable or safe – even if it starts once dry.
When my house flooded I was not as strong or stoic as my coastal friends and neighbors. Ask my sister who drove me around to get a new car and the loved ones who had to listen to me complain about feeling rattled raw. The flood cost me $15,000.00 and I was unprepared, having grown up in the city where terms like flood zone and storm surge were never used.
When my heating system needed to be hung from the ceiling, my a/c and washer and drawer moved to higher ground, the water heater replaced, the financial and emotional toll was heavy. I had a young daughter and no car, heat, hot water or cash.
The worst part was wondering, “What if it happens again?”
Years later I still look for items, like hiking shoes and remember, “Oh yeah, the flood. Gone.”
Yet I didn’t sell my house. Moving was out of the question for me then and still is now. To relocate, because of storms that might hit once a year or decade, is to reject something central and necessary to my life, which is how much I love the ocean, my home and neighborhood.
Until my 40’s, my favorite word was safe. A close second was good. If I could be both safe and good, I thought, I had arrived as a full-grown successful adult ready to die and be welcomed in Heaven. It was a perfect plan, except, I wasn’t happy. It’s hard to feel vibrant and safe or open while guarded.
So let me take a moment to appreciate storms, even the ones I pray are less severe than predicted and don’t hit too hard. It’s not that I want to lose power or a hot water heater. I don’t. Still, I know storms are valuable. They make you clean the basement, find your flashlights and appreciate a good fire. But it’s more. The big ones help you to know what you love and see the dead weight you carry and must let go of.
I’m nervous about flooding and glad I have flood insurance. I’m not out surfing in below zero temperatures or pretending there’s no blizzard.
Instead, I am saying, to the ocean, I choose to see your beauty and respect your power. Even as your wind is blowing I embrace you, knowing you have lessons to teach me. Because isn’t it true for you as well even if you are on dry land? Hasn’t your heart, been totaled on contact, at least once by love? Still, wouldn’t you risk falling in love again even though the falling part is scary? I would. I will. Safe isn’t always best.
It’s the same with Mother Nature. I know she’s got the power to do serious damage, and has, but I love her and remain loyal. Sure, her ferocious power scares me at times. It sounds as though the wind could flip my roof like it was the top of a garbage barrel. I’m nervous.
But this isn’t daily life. Most often, the ocean welcomes me, lets me walk on her shore and receives me unconditionally which is the bigger truth of coastal life.
I hope my basement stays dry and if the water comes, it recedes quickly. Either way, another storm will come – and pass – and come again. We can’t control Mother Nature, Love or Life – no matter where we live. I love my ocean and I won’t turn from her even when she is bitter and cold.
And to me, that seems more dangerous than the risk of flooding.