The news is playing endless loops of bright red and green spirals, the animated edges of Hurricane Irene which is heading our way. The dark clouds are Irene's tentacles reaching out to cover us, about to open up. We sit in suspension, before the deluge. People have been in excited panic for days; stores sold out of D batteries and large containers of water in a matter of minutes after opening, and someone told me gleefully that one store sold $24,000 worth of generators in an hour on Friday morning.
Even as I attempted to liken the hyped up terror to those 6 pages of possible side effects (including death) that come along with prescription drugs, I too have been very agitated. Perhaps it is the energy of nervous people around or maybe it is the anxiety of my daughter, trying to finish her last week as a nanny while packing for a four month trip to Italy. She has insisted on taking only one suitcase which required several elimination sessions, color coordination choices and teetering around in various shoes, with a quizzical expression. "Should I take the neutral heels or the hot pink ones?" she wondered. I reminded her that Florence is cobbled and heels might not be the best choice at all. She snapped at me because apparently I know nothing about dressing for night life, which of course is true.
The packing dilemmas are all moot now. New York City has completely shut down; for the first time ever, all modes of transportation have been halted. The airports are closed. Even Broadway is closed. Over 370,000 people have been evacuated. After hours on hold, we finally got through to the travel agency and the earliest she can leave is on Friday.
One thing is clear: Irene is bigger than all of us, bigger even than Europe and we have no control over what she will do. She may weaken and everyone will feel a bit foolish. Or the predictions could hold; lower Manhattan with its honeycombed tunnels and subway tubes could be underwater. We could lose power here in the country, but we are prepared for that.
So why am I so agitated? It always comes back to uncertainty. Not knowing touches an edge of extreme fear in my psyche and in my body; before I am aware of it, I am tense and churlish. I overreact to the slightest tone. You would think I would get this at some point – the lesson of sudden death should have taught me that I have no control anyway. All my talk about staying in the moment ought to have honed some skill. Yet I feel like an unhinged possible projectile, waiting to be caught up by a hurricane wind and thrown against a tree.
Oh well. I can't control Irene, I can't control the airlines or the newscasters. I can calm down though; I could bake something nice. We could put on some loud music and have a Hurricane Party until the lights go out, then continue by candlelight. Sounds like a plan….one which I can control.