December 31, 2003 News & Features » Cover Story

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Savoring Our Apocalypse 

In the middle of the night my cell phone rang. I looked down at the display — it was my friend T-bone calling. “Hello?” I said, expecting the worst. On the other end there was a howling of white noise, and through it his voice: “Whoooooo!!!” They were having a hurricane party. He wanted to know why I wasn’t there.

It made me think of the summer that Hurricane Dennis bumped the Carolina coast. It showed up the same weekend a handful of friends had rented a place in Duck, and we wondered if we should cancel. In the end, not only did we go, we wound up on the beach that Saturday night as the wind raked sand across our shins. We screamed, laughed and sent each other out in the roiling waves tethered to a bunch of garden hoses.

Call us stupid: Someone could have died. And what would T-bone have said if, as he danced across the coffee table, a towering oak had cleaved the living room in two? I think I know: The whole room full of them would have kept right on hooting.

When these little apocalypses disturb the order of our tree-lined lives, it doesn’t mean the moments are not to be savored. Yes, the events test us, but they also force upon us a certain level of resignation, which can be a freeing thing. After the storm, you couldn’t even drive down my street. Food was going bad. The AC was out. People were barbecuing like fiends, inviting neighbors to mack out on their thawing meat. From the driver’s seat of my RV, speeding home from Albuquerque, it sounded awfully sexy.

This is not to ignore the tragedy Isabel brought to many people’s lives. It’s December now, and everywhere blue tarps are still strapped to gutter lines, and upturned stumps mar the roadside.

And it wasn’t just Isabel. In relative terms, we have been through the weather apocalypse. We have survived biblical portions of rain. I’ve been ravaged by the flu twice already. And now we’ve had our earthquake. The worst damage, I heard, was that a jogger was thrown into the river. What a story he’ll have to tell. — Dave McCormack





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