“The House was built on the highest part of the narrow tongue of land between the harbor and the open sea. It had lasted through three hurricanes and was built solid as a ship.” By Ernest Hemingway – the opening sentences from the novel, Islands in the Stream.
If you find me in a library or book store, you’ll find me reading the opening sentences from novels. It’s sort of a passion I have for the writing craft. I rarely quote anyone, I think you should share your own stuff, but I have a strong affection for the above quoted section from Ernest Hemingway.
Let me explain…
Today, I am thankful. I am safe.
If you live alone in Florida, like I do, the pre-hurricane process to prepare can eat up all your waking time. Life by definition is full of stress, it’s about the unknown, but this was a constant community stress that had blanketed the rich, and the not so rich.
It had been over a decade since a hurricane had made a direct hit on Florida, most people around me at the grocery store had not a clue what to expect. My clients from my daytime efforts had all scattered to prepare for the same naturally occurring event.
The naturally occurring event was a hurricane the weather service had named, Irma.
Upon her arrival late last Sunday night, I had noted from my relative safety within my solid-as-a-ship building, built at a high-point, she was not a happy girl. I suspected she was a heavy seawater drinker given her hippy satellite appearance, and wobbly gate. But that was from my memory, as the power was out, and I had watched, and sensed her pass by me in total darkness. Alone.
And like a bad relationship, I had no idea where she’d head next, but she made a big mess, broke some hearts, and quickly left town.
Not long ago, I had watched in horror from afar as my former home, Houston and that part of Texas, got hit by that sumo wrestler like hurricane named Harvey, which had slowly smothered the region with wind and rain.
I have lived through many other storms, both personal and naturally occurring. I have a resilient nature, and I’ll just nod or shrug this off and keep moving forward.
After a week without power, it was mercifully reignited, and I was again bathed in air-conditioning, and a hot shower. To state the obvious, I am soft, as in wimpy. I have zero to complain about – ever.
As I strolled about downtown St. Petersburg late this afternoon, a week after Irma had come and gone, it was a resplendent day. The sun had cast a sunshine blanket, it was quite warm. The restaurants and bars had reopened, the Bucs had a game, and groups of people appeared on the downtown streets.
The dark bay waters were calm as I strolled past the debris clumps left in the nearby front yards after the clean-up.
As I watched the other joggers and bikers along our shared concrete path, I stopped and I gazed back across the bay at the passing boats and packs of dolphins. It was as if a surreal foggy experience had occurred, and now all with this part of the world had gotten back right with the Lord.
I’ll admit something, I argue with God.
Or, I argue with a deep-rooted concept in my mind that I don’t understand.
It comes from my suspicion that we human kind, me included, put God, or what we define as God, in our own convenient boxes.
If God exists, we cannot collectively or individually put God in ANY man-made box.
The one thing I do know, hurricanes mark time, consider that idea – something or someone had actually marked time. The one universal constant – time.
At the end of Islands in the Stream, the Thomas Hudson character had been mortally wounded, he’s about to die. Hemingway wrote a scene that I love. It’s so simple, yet, not. The last dialogue speaks for itself.
“I think I understand, Willie,” Thomas Hudson said.
“Oh shit,” Willie said. “You never understand anybody that loves you.”