dimanche, août 28, 2011

Gimme Shelter....how we found ourselves adrift on a dark, stormy night

My ex and I are at the stage of being the Bickertons -- we take a nip now and again, but don't go for the jugular.

It was odd, although maybe not unpredictable, that we had an argument on the night of hurricane Irene -- one that resulted in me and Mr. C being asked to leave the protection of his townhouse while the rain swept the pavement and the trees and on CNN the forecasters churned gloom and doom.

Believe or not, it was about where my son and I ought to sleep, given the tornado watch. Needless to say, we lost.

And so it was, dear readers, that we found ourselves caught up in a world of ordinary landmarks that had somehow, while we ate and watched the news and talked, become menacing.

By the time we got to the intersection of Route 30 and Ship Road, I deeply regretted having engaged in a dispute with my former husband. By doing so, I had taken my child into a difficult, unpredictable, and frankly scary scene, one in which I had little control.

The streets gleamed bright under the lights. There was almost no one else on the road. Already the ancient Volvo had pushed through a few curves at which water roiled, the saturated land no refuge.

Turning west on Route 30, we found ourselves in a rising tide of muddy water. A few seconds and I'd have to make a choice -- back up or try to move through the pool. It was at this point that a woman in white (I kid you not) arose from the water. Moving towards us, water up to her hips, she waved us back like a spectre from a 19th-century Gothic romance.

Eerie as her appearance was, I doubt that she was a ghost. When I asked her if I could help her, she answered practically that she was going to call for help. It was only then that I noticed a blue SUV that had gotten a few yards down the road before becoming helplessly stuck in the rising stream.

Backing up, we pulled onto Ship Road, which had no huge tidal pools waiting to suck us into their murky depths. Once on Route 100, we were able to find our way to Route 113 -- we knew that one of the local high schools had opened its doors as a shelter.

Safe in the antiseptic, empty rooms of a high school waiting for its students to come barreling in the doors next week, we sat there, a little traumatized and very grateful.

A cot, a blanket, a toothbrush, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich -- these were the gifts of the gods.

Mostly, I was grateful to the staff for taking care of us, for making us feel safe, for providing everything we needed -- in spite of a moment of foolishness that could have meant a lot more than we ever meant it to.

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