There was an awful moment on Monday — say, around 1 p.m. ET, at the height of Irma’s collision with Charleston, S.C. — when I thought I was going to die.
The same feeling occurred to me last year during Matthew, but perhaps not with the immediacy of this past Monday. This past Monday I was alone in my Chucktown house on the second floor, monitoring the storm’s movement and hoping the whole thing didn’t come crashing down on top of me. It didn’t, and for that I’m glad. Others haven’t been so lucky, and for them I’m profoundly sorry.
I have many family and friends scattered across the state of Florida still without power or internet or water. They’re piecing their lives back together, and they will recover because they’re strong, loving, wonderful individuals who care about life, happiness, and being here. They’re human and humanitarian and they’re helping one another out of a sense of basic human duty and love. It’s just who they are.
There was that awful moment on Monday when I thought I was going to die. The storm had been building all week and it pushed a sinister cold front into Charleston the Saturday before it arrived. For 24 hours things were downright weird. For 24 hours last weekend I had serious questions about my decision to stay. In a way, I’m relieved I did, because coming back through the mess Irma left throughout the low country is awful. But I kind of wish I had left. I didn’t, though, and I’m still here with everything intact, except for a leak in my ceiling. We can fix that.
But then again there was that awful moment on Monday when I thought I was going to die. The wind and rain were ravaging every side of my house, and trashing the back parking area, and the water was rising back there too, and I had no idea what my street looked like with respect to the rising water, and it was high tide, and the storm surge was swelling well above the Charleston Battery’s sea wall, and the videos and images emerging from local outlets were showing scenes of wet, scattered, inundated chaos. Rescue teams went into go-mode, then they didn’t because it was just too dangerous out there. We were under tornado warnings, then we weren’t.
There are things that give you perspective in this life, and that was one of them. The wind’s howling through your home and ears and mind and body and there’s a leak over there in the living room and the water’s steadily rising in the back yard and there’s a sudden thump over there on the back wall, then another. It was terrifying, and I laid down on the floor of my home office in tears hoping for it all to end knowing that I still had hours to go, then I fell asleep and it was over. Finally, over.
The storm eventually, mercifully, began to subside around 5 p.m. local time — but only gradually, mind. We still got a full tonnage of rain after the final large bands passed to the north of us, and the rain didn’t really quit until around midnight. That didn’t stop me from sprinting over to a nearby dive — not Cutty’s, not yet, anyway — to check in with a few friends. I needed to be out of my house and in the presence of other humans. Out of the death trap. Away from that water. We were for the most part out of the woods, and I needed a drink.
Still a bit harrowed, it was surreal to walk into Recovery Room and find a standard Monday evening. There’s Boston slinging drinks to his patron friends. He knows all of our names, because his heart is the biggest in the city. He genuinely wants to know how we all fared and whether he can help. He’s got Monday Night Football on, when DirecTV allows between gaps in the clouds. PBR and a shot of Van Gogh and suddenly I’m sucked up from the bottom of the ocean and back to reality.
Suddenly, that was it. Here are real other humans. Here to see others, and to be seen. The people too needed to get out from under their respective death traps and away from that water. Here we are, toasting one another’s good health and afterward safety, prost. We’d been though enough, and anyway, look, there’s live football happening.
That, I think, is very near to what football, sports generally, provide us. Release and return. It’s violent and destroys its human heads, but also reminds us of the head on our shoulders. It constantly reminds us.
We, I, needed that reminder on Monday.
I went nearly four days without writing a creative word here or anywhere. I was half-human because of it, un-human. I need to write, you see, because I’m an anxious and often depressed person when I’m not writing. When I’m not editing. When I’m not teaching. And that had been the case for four days and it culminated in me sobbing on the floor of my home hoping that something, someone would just end it. Take this one bad thing away from here and stand me up to write. Please.
Let me do something else. There has to be something else to think about.
So, now, after this great, grand experience, we get to experience another. Ole Miss at Cal. I’ve been waiting for this weekend the moment last season ended. The moment Phil Longo was hired. The moment Shea Patterson ran buck-wild all over Texas A&M. The moment Hugh Freeze resigned. Both of these teams in their current incarnations will offer up some of the wildest, most spectacular football you or I have ever seen. It’s happening at 10:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, 7:30 p.m. local. The final game of the night. I can finally release myself from storm worry and focus on this hilarious game and this hilarious blog and write — for you.
Off we go, y’all, into this great, grand storm in Berkeley.