“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.”
I was supposed to be relaxing on the beach now, ensconced within the pages of a good book. Or taking a walk at the ocean’s edge, collecting shells along the way. Or swimming laps in the pool, enjoying the cool and refreshing water. Or browsing the seaside shops, intrigued by all they have to offer. But I’m not. Instead, I’m sitting at home, glued to the coverage about Hurricane Irene and grateful that, even though she ruined the end of our vacation, we’re back from the coastline before things get too bad. As the storm sets its eye on New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and most of the East Coast, though, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t still nerve-wracking. With meteorologists calling this the storm of a lifetime for our area … how can you not be concerned?
Let’s back up to when the skies were sunny – which, granted, was only for three days of our entire vacation, but I’m trying to look on the bright side anyway. We arrived back at the shore on Sunday, and after a ridiculous issue with the hotel double-booking our room not once, but twice (seriously?!), we managed about an hour of beach time before the breeze turned to wind and the mist to rain. Monday was much better – there were actually rays of light beaming down from the sky – and we had a lovely beach day with Sara and her family. We even saw groups of dolphins swimming by!
Tuesday and Wednesday were also beautiful, especially because my aunt, uncle, and cousins joined us. For years, we’d all go on vacation together – our family, theirs, and Gram – and even though we haven’t the past couple years, it seemed inherently important to get back to that. There were times when I could literally feel the heart-shaped hole where Gram should be, but she’d have wanted us to enjoy ourselves, and we truly did. It was great to have that escape from reality together, even if only for a short while.
I even managed to fit in early morning editing time out on the balcony. Who voluntarily wakes up at 6:45 on vacation? This gal. I’ll admit that doing revisions wasn’t quite as fun as last year’s writing spree (sorta beginning to think I have this manuscript memorized by now – nobody EVER let me write a first draft that’s way too long ever again, okay?), but the ocean still remained a source of inspiration like no other. It makes you feel big and small at the same time, lifts you up and grounds you in place. I was very, very (very, very) tempted to start planning and outlining my next book while I was outside and looking at such a mesmerizing view, but I was good and stuck to the task at hand. No promises for next time, because even though it’s only been a month and a half so far, I NEEDNEEDNEED to start writing again soon. Edits are important. Queries are important. Getting this book to its best version is important. But I can feel the yearning to write bubbling up inside me, begging and pleading to be let out. Who am I to say no?
And then Thursday came along. Thursday, with sunny skies and what looked to be a great day. Thursday, which we planned to spend on the beach and at the pool. Thursday, when Irene’s projected track shifted even closer to shore and Cape May County officials ordered a mandatory evacuation of the entire coastline. Fun, fun, fun. Except … not. All visitors/hotel guests had to leave by last night and all residents/renters by today. The other coastal towns followed suit – so much of the Jersey shore is comprised of barrier islands that there was no other safe option – and traffic has been a nightmare ever since. No exaggeration, it took us over an hour to drive THREE MILES on one of the evacuation routes last night. It was oh-so-joyous. I’m super disappointed that our vacation was cut short – it was one of the only things we’d been looking forward to in this nightmare of a summer – but, of course, it’s more important to be safe. Better for everyone to leave and be away from the eye of the storm. Now I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Irene doesn’t do too much damage to the place that’s one of my favorites in all the world. We spent a little more time down at the shops before we had to evacuate, and it was so creepy to see them all taped, sandbagged, and boarded up.
Everyone in the hurricane’s path, please stay safe. Here’s hoping things go well this weekend.