That was NUTS. Did I really just survive that?! SHOOT – Why didn’t I FILM IT??!!! I could’ve mounted the camera right behind the seat and… Oh that’s right, I was busy hoping I wouldn’t float away.
The worst storm of my entire life – at least while in an automobile, was in Waterproof, Louisiana. I’m not making that up. The town is called Waterproof. Unfortunately my convertible top was anything but.
The view before:
Looking at these pictures now, from a comfortable coffee shop in sunny California, even myself I’m thinking “it probably wasn’t that bad, was I wimping out? I’ve been through storms before that were…”
No. It was bad. Really bad. The wipers were having almost no effect. The wind was pushing the car east towards the corn fields. The road was not even visible. Then the water started coming in. First through the back corners – the gaping gaps between the window and top – then through the front by the latches, and the sides, dripping on my knees, my shoulders, all over. Then because it was a two-lane road the semi-trucks literally buried me in a Maverick’s – style big wave smash of water every time I got a little comfortable. The only picture I got (above) was after it had calmed down and by then there was an equal amount of water inside the car as outside.
Oh how I was cursing the man who said he’d put on a new top before I left on my trip then flaked out and never ordered it. Curse. Curse. Curse.
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From the shot above it’s clear Waterproof has a history of this level of nonsense. I’m sure the jokes are non stop and have made their way onto t-shirts, postcards, and hats. Not trucker hats but real hats. Hats that double as jackets.
According to the National Weather Service for my storm from June, one could expect “severe thunderstorms from North Dakota to Louisiana, with some locations receiving between 3″-6″ of rain, hail, and strong wind gusts.” So no – I wasn’t imagining it.
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Let’s give it one more shot – from Northern North Carolina…
Nope. Just not that impressive.
It sure sounds like a thick dose of self-help-blah-blah- but it might be just actually true – the storms of our lives are impossible to describe. It’s why support groups exist. “Oh you went through ___ ? No way – so did I.” At least someone, somewhere, can somewhat relate.
The friends of mine who visited my father’s house-scourging project will forever have a different opinion and memory than those who didn’t. It just couldn’t be described. 3,000+ records. Books and old VHS tapes on every – EVERY inch of shelf space. Not all junk though – cool stuff, framed butterflies, dried plants, amazing maps and posters, old books about American Indians, John Muir, Olmsted history, and more. The “more” in fact is probably what can’t be described. You just had to see it. Seventeen old stand-up record players. A garage full of 100-year old Singer sewing machines. An old cash register we couldn’t lift – how did he get it in there?? No idea.. let alone why.
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So what – do we only hang out with those who can relate to us and all of our ups and downs? Maybe. If the storm / wound/ scar is very fresh maybe we don’t hang out with anyone at all. If you’ve dealt with cancer in your family, or with losing a close friend, it’s not all doom and gloom but it’s also a losing case to try to explain it to someone who just can’t understand – just like you before you went through it.
Maybe though the storms can have an unintended effect – to wash off not just the dirt, but the cynicism. The hard edge of life that builds up like the red dirt of Alabama on an old screen door. Because when you come through a serious storm you’re usually at least one notch down. Seeing your own mortality can do that. Seeing a cliff you almost went off, a river you almost washed away in, existing in a car that’s dripping gallons of water on the inside yet somehow still keeps running… You come out – at least I did – grateful. Heart pumping faster. Clearer vision. Maybe even with a feeling that it’s time to call someone you care about. Family, friends, “hey – uh, I wasn’t sure there for a bit but.. well anyway how are you doing?”
Tough to go through, tough to describe.
Maybe we don’t need to. Maybe the change in attitude, the huge hug you give those you care about, the edge off of your road rage or phone manner will say enough. Pushed to the edge is probably a good thing once in awhile.
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But hey, your storms are your own – this is how I felt after mine..
Happy Tuesday, it’s good to be here.