When I was in junior high, Hurricane Alicia hit Houston. Thirty years later, I still remember:
Dragging my trundle bed mattress to my parents' room and putting all of my precious preteen keepsakes in the empty trundle space in a somewhat desperate attempt to assure their safety (and keep them from becoming airborne);
Falling asleep to the sound of the weather radio that my mother had put by her bedside;
Being awakened by said mother at 4:45 AM when said weather radio advised that it was time to batten down the hatches;
Barricading ourselves with sofa pillows under the massive dining room table, because the builder of our home failed to provide us with a closet that wasn't on an outside wall;
Watching a tornado trace the line of our street, thankfully picking up nothing other than a few trashcans; and
About an hour after the whole thing began, hearing the rain suddenly stop and the wind suddenly drop and realizing that the eye was overhead.
Of course, we went outside when the eye arrived. How could we resist? One minute all hell is breaking loose, and the next minute all is calm. But not a reassuring calm - an eerie, unsettling and entirely supernatural calm, unlike any calm you have ever experienced. You feel, somewhat, like you are floating in the void of space, because the air has a vacuum-y quality to it, but you are very much rooted to the ground, and the sky above you is a color that cannot really be described or duplicated - not quite gray, and not quite green. I remember birds flying in the void of "not-space" above our heads, and I tried to be reassured by their presence. (The next day, we saw other, less reassuring birds: dead seagulls, picked up over the Gulf and dumped onto our lawn, an hour inland. Months later, we were finding shells and starfish in our flower beds. Not making that up.)
Mainly, the eye was unsettling because we didn't know exactly what to expect after it had passed: more of what we had just experienced? Or something entirely different, but perhaps just as bad? Once the eye passes, things tend to become more disorganized - but disorganization isn't always a good thing.
If you have ever had the (dis)pleasure of experiencing a hurricane, then you may know that the eye, as the calmest part of the storm, is surrounded by what is called an eyewall. The eyewall is a ring of towering thunderstorms where the most severe weather occurs.
Last week was our eyewall.
We finally - FINALLY - got clearance to sign a lease Monday night. Signed the lease on Tuesday morning and spent the remainder of the day moving the bulk of our "take-withs" into the apartment. Washer and dryer were delivered in the morning, rental furniture was delivered in the afternoon. So far, so good. We spent Tuesday night in our own home, hoping to have the remainder of our "take-withs" in the apartment by lunchtime. I'll spare you most of the details, but we were still moving items into the apartment on Friday. The packers and movers from Blackmon-Mooring invaded Wednesday morning and were on the job until Friday as well. Things got put into storage that were supposed to go to the apartment. Stuff got lost. Spouse loaded the fridge and freezer food into big Rubbermaid totes, headed out to drive them over to the apartment - and discovered that the movers had gone to lunch, in their van, leaving the giant panel truck BLOCKING HIS CAR INTO THE DRIVEWAY. Spouse radioed to me for an assist. Oh, did I mention that I actually tried to work this week? I was in the office for four hours on Wednesday and the bulk of the day Thursday and Friday. That is, when I wasn't leaving at the spur of the moment to rescue perishables, or to pick up my child at the middle school so that he could have his arm X-rayed. Because, the first night that we stayed in the apartment (by "we," I mean me and the kids - due to pet and other issues, we were a fractured family for much of the week), he tripped coming down the stairs from our second-floor walkup (thought that there was one more step, when there wasn't), fell forward and caught the brunt of the fall with his right arm. (I will give the kid credit - he's consistent. That right arm goes out every time, saving his face. This time, it does not appear that he actually broke anything, but, given that he's only complained of significant pain twice in his life before this incident, and both times HE HAD BROKEN HIS RIGHT ARM, we take right arm injuries pretty seriously.)
Did I also mention that Thursday and Friday ended up being crazy-busy at work? Or that I had multiple Junior League commitments that were attendance-mandatory? Or that Friday was my grandmother's 93rd birthday, meaning that instead of immediately retrieiving the cats from our now-empty house, they ended up marooned there for a few more hours while we participated in her celebratory steak dinner?
Can I tell you how sleep-deprived I was by Friday night, or how worried I was that my spouse was going to have a heart attack from all of the physical exertion and/or mental stress? Care to guess how many times I drove away from the apartment on Wednesday with my parking brake still deployed? (Answer: Three.)
But, ultimately, the movers left. The dogs accompanied us to Gigi's birthday dinner and slept over at Nana's and Granddad's, giving us the opportunity last night to introduce the cats to the apartment without the canines underfoot. As I predicted, Baby Max thought the whole thing was tremendously exciting (until yesterday, he did not know that there was such a thing as a second-story window!). Gabby Cat rebounded in the space of fifteen minutes and is currently enjoying the fact that the master bathroom has two sinks. (Now she can demand a drink from one faucet, and then immediately march to the other end of the counter and repeat the process. So. Much. Power.) Barkley was the slower to recover when we moved into our house twelve years ago, and he was the slowest this go-round as well. However, his time is improving: a couple of hours spent hiding in the back corner of the closet, and he was with the program.
So all of us, except for the dogs, slept here last night. Spent the morning doing laundry and unpacking the boxes, and then Parnell took the kids out to run errands while I folded tissue paper, flattened boxes and finished setting up the kitchen and bathrooms. And then, around 4:45 (PM, this time), the eye arrived: the kids retreated to their room to play Wii, and Parnell got the rabbit ears adjusted just right (U-Verse guy doesn't come until THURSDAY) to pick up the Texas/UCLA game. Added bonus: he remembered that his Android is a mobile hotspot, allowing all of us to access the Internet in the days leading up to U-Verse guy's arrival. So Daddy watched football and caught up with the latest blog posts warning of the impending Big 12 apocalypse, while Mommy made dinner. And barbecue chicken to serve on baked potatoes for lunch tomorrow. And cake balls. See, it's my goal to use up every jar in the fridge and box in the pantry, so when we move back, it won't matter if a fleet of moving trucks has blocked in both of our cars, because there will be no perishables to tote. I am pleased to announce that, through various food prep efforts (I also marinated some chicken to make Monday night), I killed a bottle of barbecue sauce, the remainder of a jar of lemon herb mustard, half of a jar of olives, and a box of brownie mix, among other items.
So far, so good.
It occurred to me as I puttered around my not-my-kitchen that it has been awhile since I have had the chance to enjoy cooking or baking. The Event put a temporary stop to stuff like that. But now I can resume cooking, and baking, and blogging. I can justify taking the time to read a book, or play a board game with the kids.
I could feel the calm descending.
After dinner, I took a bath. A long one. The persual of cooking magazines may have been involved.
The dogs arrived from Nana's. Ruby saw her reflection in the mirrored doors in the third bedroom that will serve as Parnell's office. She growled at herself. Herself growled back. She yelped. We laughed.
Still more calm.
The apartment doesn't suck. It's a little worse for wear in areas, and there are college kids on both sides of us, but both of those are positives when you have kids and pets (theory being that the damage and noise potential of our brood is on par with what you would expect from nineteen year-olds living on their own for the first time- we'll blend right in). The garden tub in the master bathroom is nice and deep (see: bath involving cooking magazines, above). We have a fireplace in the master as well, and - because the master has a sitting area and the furniture rental people couldn't provide Parnell with the office desk that the relo company requested, substituting a small writing desk instead - I have my own office. (Movers brought his desk over, so we're both in clover.) I'm sitting at my "happy accident desk" now, with the window open a crack (WINDOWS THAT OPEN! ANOTHER NOVELTY, when you are used to living in a ninety year-old home) and the sounds of a wedding reception drifting in. Did I mention that our bedroom directly overlooks a wedding venue that is now called Stonegate Mansion but in a former life was known as Cullen Davis' home and the scene of an infamous multiple homicide? Weird that I find both of these facts amusing?
So industrious were we in the unpacking department that I will actually have time tomorrow to take the kids to the complex pool (which is also pretty sweet - loving the little cabanas, just like Vegas) and then finish decorating the kitchen for Halloween (I'll explain in a subsequent post). We're agreed that at least one of us ought to be home at all times tomorrow, as the pets get acclimated. Wait - did I just call this home? Yeah, I guess I did. My peeps, and my pets, are here, so it really is home.
And being home is - well, calming.
I think it's fairly notable that it rained last night. Not just a little bit of rain, either - what we in Texas call a gullywasher. The kind of rain that we're used to having in the summertime. It was the lack of the wet stuff that caused The Event, and the irony that The Event created a deluge of Biblical proportions, during a time of drought, was not lost on us - nor was the symbolism of a rainstorm hitting just as the moving truck cleared our street. A cleansing rain, representing the trailing edge of the eyewall as it passed overhead, signaling that the eye of our own personal storm had arrived.