You know how when your life seems kind of surreal, you can either laugh or cry? Well, I’m right there now, and I think I will laugh. That seems the better choice. I’m sitting in my “temporary housing” watching the wind blow and waiting for Tropical Storm Bill to pay a visit. Bad timing Bill…very bad. I’m not going to bore you with the details of my life the last few weeks, but suffice it to say, our house flooded three weeks ago. Completely. But it wasn’t just us, and this is not about just me. We, along with others, lost pretty much everything. And now we wait. We wait to see what our next move is. We wait to hear from insurance. And we wait and wonder if anything will ever be normal again. There’s kind of a community of zombies around here. We can tell each other by the glazed looks on our faces. This species walks around looking for a spec of information as opposed to delicious brains to munch. Mmm….info from FEMA. Munch, munch. Mmm… call from the adjuster. Munch, munch. Yes, we’re info zombies, and frankly, it’s not attractive. At least not on me. The bags under my eyes are even bigger than usual. But now I have an excuse.
Fred Rogers said to look for the helpers. I didn’t have to look far. There are many, many helpers, and I am truly grateful. Mr. Rogers also said we should learn from all our experiences. So here are the top ten things (in no particular order) I’ve learned from being what is endearingly called “a flood victim.”
- Bureaucracy is not user friendly. We are jumping through more hoops than the dolphins at Sea World. Unfortunately, it is through hoops and into what seems like a never ending maze. The up side is that I’ve learned more about insurance, FEMA, elevation certificates, and other things I never thought I’d need. Who knows? Maybe one day I will be on T.V saying, “What is base flood elevation, Alex?”
- I have wonderful friends and family. I’ve always known that, but they have gone above and beyond. Our friends and family have helped us pack up the few things we were able to salvage, they have given me clothes, taken us to dinner, and have been there to prop me up when I was about to fall. My sons and their families are always there for food and shelter. When it comes to friends, we chose well. And, if I say so myself, we raised “good boys” who chose wonderful wives.
- I must spend a lot of time reading dark Young Adult novels. As walked around my devastated neighborhood, I could have sworn I heard Effie Trinket call out, “May the odds be ever in your favor!” Climbing over mountains of broken glass and debris, I found myself thinking, In the dystopian city of Houston…..
- Although I read YA, I don’t write them. I write kid lit, and I look at everything as a possible story. There is definitely a picture book hidden in this somewhere. I’m not sure I can keep it to 500 words, but I’m sure there will be a lost puppy in it somewhere.
- Turns out we are “the elderly couple across the hall.” This apartment complex is nice, but it is filled with lots of young people who look at us with pity. Look at those poor old people schlepping groceries up the stairs.
- There’s good news. It is possible for my husband and me to live in very close quarters without killing each other. Turns out we’re not a bad team. (OK…it’s only been a few weeks, but still, I think that’s a good sign!)
- I can talk to FEMA reps and insurance agents and sound somewhat rational. However, please don’t make me decide which apples to buy or what brand salad dressing I want. I don’t know!!
- One T.V isn’t so bad. One bathroom is a little more challenging. It is definitely possible to make due with considerably less than what I’m used to! 🙂
- Orange may be the new black, but for many of us, confusion is the new normal. As are roller coaster emotions that want to make us punch someone!
- And finally, we are “them.” We see disasters on T.V and feel bad for “them.” We are usually the helpers, and being the ones who need help is uncomfortable. But when FEMA and The Red Cross show up in our own neighborhood, we know. There is no them and no me. It is us. And it’s kind of humbling.