I am supposed to have an interview on Tuesday but the contact person emailed me to say that if we get a hurricane then we’ll reschedule the appointment. We’ll go if it’s above a Category 3, says my mom. She’s currently trying to find us a place to stay that’s more inland (you know, more inland than an island) but everything is already booked out. We’ll get the evacuation notice tomorrow, if we’re going to get one, and probably leave Monday night. Probably, maybe. I don’t know.
That’s the thing, the thing I’ve forgotten about hurricanes: all the pre-anxiety. You don’t know, exactly, when it’s going to hit. You don’t know how bad it’s going to be. And most horrifyingly, you don’t know where. There is no guarantee that going further inland will be safer; I haven’t been in Florida for a hurricane since 1992 but I remember how tons of people went down to Homestead, thinking at least it was away from the water, but of course that’s where the wind was worst and that’s where the ten cities stayed up for months and months. We had a foot and a half of salt water standing in the house back then but we were lucky because we had most of a roof—our across-the-street neighbors didn’t. You would see ripped-up houses right next to perfectly fine houses which hadn’t even lost electricity. There’s no way to know, ahead of time, which house your house will be. Maybe you’ll be fine, or maybe you’ll be getting Red Cross relief and trying to find your flood insurance papers in what’s left of your living room. Maybe the storm won’t fall near you at all and you’ll just go to your interview as planned.
(D. said, when I told him all this over chat yesterday morning: “I feel safer in Darfur!”)
Today we’ll be standing in line at Publix getting in more water and granola bars to add to our regular hurricane supplies. I’ve signed up to get extreme weather alerts via text. We’ll move all my mom’s gigantic trees in pots inside and will put up the shutters tomorrow night probably—thankfully in this new place Mom has an awesome neighbor who helps her with the highest one that she can’t do herself. We think if we move all the bookshelves away from the walls they’ll be all right; anything breakable will go in the bathrooms. My sister probably won’t have to evacuate because she’s west of US1—it’s unclear at this point whether we’ll go down south to her or try to go north and west. We have these foster kittens that are getting dropped off at their new home today, which happens to be a mansion owned by someone very rich and very clueless; yesterday I heard my mom tell him, completely seriously, “Well, there’s only one road off the island and since we don’t have a private jet like your family we’d rather know the kittens were going to be safe with you before we try to evacuate by car, okay?”
Meanwhile, it’s a gorgeous Saturday in Miami; I’m wearing a short sleeved shirt and a lavalava I brought back from Samoa. I have been here for about three days and have spent them trying to pick up work, watching the American version of The Office, making marinated tofu salads, buying a new Macbook (academic discount!), fussing with immigration stuff, and at Target. I’m here until I get a job/visa/residency permit in New Zealand or January, whichever comes first. I have been feeling pretty angsty about coming back here–before Gustav, let alone Ike—but all that kind of free-floating anxiety about what I’m doing and what direction my life is taking is buried under the very specific worries of where and when and how this storm will hit us, and what we will do about it, and whether we will be safe.