October 31st, 2012
I don’t even know where to start with this. Sandy? Sucked. She sucked and she still sucks and awww, maaaan, she sucked, what else is there to say? We were relatively unscathed compared to some, but still: it sucked. I hate thinking about what’s still happening out there, and I hope you are all safe and warm.
For some reason, I was unreasonably panicked about the storm, but only about the loss of power. Perhaps I was recalling Snowtober of last year, wherein we lost power for multiple (freezing) days, and I made the grave error of choosing chicken tikka masala for lunch during the tenth week of pregnancy. This choice proved to be more unwise than anyone could have anticipated, for the lack of power led to Sam’s lack of sleep (no sound machine!), which led to an inability to take my evening Unisom, which ultimately led to me barfing up chicken tikka masala out the passenger side of my CRV across from Honeydew Donuts in Framingham. This, of course, resulted in me having to clean up said vomit while my child screamed and my husband sympathy gagged AND I had barfed all over myself, including my hair and heyyyy, no hot water and it was 30 degrees outside, so I couldn’t EVEN.
And everyone at the time wondered why we eventually ended up paying out the ass for a hotel in Cambridge. Yes, YOU try smelling your vomit-covered self for a few days straight and see what you’re willing to part with, cash-wise, to free yourself from the stench. While pregnant.
Well! Obviously I am still grumpy about THAT. And listen, no one likes to overuse the term PTSD, but I do believe I carried a touch of it around when Sandy, who I keep wanting to call Diane, came rolling into town. I fretted at every flicker! I booked a hotel in a neighboring town in advance to stave off the remotest possibility of puke hair! I prayed, I voodooed, I did everything possible to avoid losing power, short of a live sacrifice. (But don’t think I didn’t give my kitchen window spider pal Charlotte the side-eye.)
I . . . didn’t really consider downed trees. Of which there were three, one of which — a 50-foot pine — came crashing down on the roof over my living room WHILE I WAS SITTING UNDERNEATH IT. It blew out the lights! Bits of lights showered down upon me! WHILE I WAS HOLDING MY BABY.
I panicked! I ran! I screamed, “Girls, RUN!” Girls. As if Allie has legs that do anything but pump aimlessly into the ether.
I am not the girl you want in a crisis. I have many fine attributes, but bearing reasonable instincts in heartstopping moments is not one of them. Sam freaked, as you would expect, and firmly planted herself in front of the couch. I grabbed her hand, willing her to move, screaming at her to JUST MOVE. I wandered back and forth, hopelessly confused. I waited for the last remaining pine to fall — another fifty-footer, already leaning quite ominously — and wandered some more while Adam barked orders. And then we all loaded into the car with our pre-packed bags and got on the roads like those idiots you see on newscasts that you wonder what in the HELL they’re doing in the streets of a hurricane. I called the hotel we’d booked and had JUST canceled to see if we could get our reservation back. (We’d canceled as the last hour of the storm was upon us, and HEY! We made it! OH HO!)
They were without power. Of course.
I know this sounds very dramatic for not a lot of action, but you know, it was scary as shit. I’m not saying we were in the Astrodome re-using diapers and picking chicken bones off the floor to survive, but I tell you, hurricanes are scary places to be.
This whole story ends rather anti-climactically, as I called around, found a Residence Inn and we stayed the night without incident. Tree people were able to come bright and early — including a crane, to my utter delight — and the roof is relatively undamaged. We’re now back at home, and Sammy is sick as a flipping DOG. Her face is slimy, she’s coughing like it’s her job, and she’s on day three of a fever with some pretty heavy malaise. She’s normally not one to sit still OR watch extended episodes of television (too busy!), and yet by 3 p.m. every day, she’s planted herself on the couch with a blanket, three mousies and a teddy bear and passed out cold for several hours. This is a kid who hasn’t taken a nap since June, and a voluntary one since . . . oh, that would be never.
My little bear. It kills me.
I should add that during all of this, the kids were positively amazing. Allie was her usual self — that of happy-go-lucky kid, full of gummy grins and laughs, just thrilled to be taken along for the ride. My friend Dara has referred to Alex as a purse, because she really does just go anywhere on a dime, barely registering that there are new circumstances to adjust to. Oh, we’re in a new place? Are there boobs? Fabulous! Let’s roll! She is startling and delightful in her simplicity, and I appreciate her in a way I don’t think I’d have been able to, had Sam not been who she was at that age.
Sam, on the other hand, is/was never like Alex, as we all know. This trip, however, she was different, and it tugged at my heart in a way I will never be able to fully articulate. It was always easy for me to assume that the more demanding/difficult child would be harder to love, but that has not been my experience. There is something about Sam — something about how hard she works just to get through life’s situations, whether it be an area of loud noises, getting a new baby sister or having to sleep in a new place — that tugs on my heart harder than anything in the world. She didn’t want to leave at first; she was nervous about having to “live at the hotel forever” despite assurances to the contrary. She wanted her own bed, her own stuff, her (glass-windowed, oh-hell-no) playroom.
When we got to the hotel, our suite had a gas fireplace.
“Hey, can we make s’mores?” she chirped excitedly. “Mommy. Daddy. We can get marshmallows, and put them in the fire until they get soft, and get some graham crackers and make a sandwich. That is called a S’MORE! And later! When we go camping? We can get our blankets and sit around the campfire and maybe we’ll even make up our own STORYBOOK and sing a SONG! And my bed will be like a SLEEPING BAG.”
It’s so simple and silly, but I can’t tell you what it was like, seeing her perk up at something so simple and just let crappy circumstances wash over her like a wave. It was just stupidly amazing to me that this kid — this kid who screamed her way through the first year of her life, and struggles so much with new things — was just rolling with it because she got excited about a fireplace. Sick as a dog, displaced and terrified and hey, can we make s’mores? No? Well, someday then. Goodnight!
Something about that moment, this experience, these last few days has made me think so much about how mind-blowing parenting really is. What a privilege it is to see these tiny little chubs of nothing — two! Two GIRLS! — become actual people with their own thoughts and feelings and opinions. I can’t get enough of them. I inhale their heads and bury my nose in their necks and I hug Sam so hard that she — she who is generally made of unlimited wells of affection — says in a strained voice, “Too. Much. Hugs.” Allie, however, cannot protest yet, so she gets kissed and kissed and kissed again, so many times that she no longer smells like herself and instead, smells vaguely of my shampoo and body lotion and her eyebrows bear bits of shimmer from my lip gloss, long worn away from the endless shower of kisses bestowed on two tiny heads.
I’m so stinking lucky, man.
So yes. Perhaps I am a little stressed and emotional and, ah, tweaked — I imagine it’s not uncommon for a lot of people after this week. But I tell you, I’m happy I have those kids. They’re pretty damn great.
I hope you and yours are doing well.