Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Past Halfway

So after my day off from reading on Monday, I did make up yesterday. Honestly, if I hadn't taken that day off, you might be reading "DONE!" right here. Barring anything strange or tragic, I should finish Under the Dome today.

I was thinking, and I had prepared a blog that I trashed due to sensitive nature. I wanted to tell you my From a Buick 8 story, but it's hard to do ignoring the total circumstances.

See, being from Louisiana, unfortunately hurricane season and hurricane evacuations become a semi-normal part of your life. Post Katrina and Rita, I feel that there was a lot of assumption that the big one would never happen. That each warning was just an overreaction. And it was backed up by the fact that everyone would pick up and go and the storm that hit would not be as bad as predicted.

It made life really tough, and I'm not trying at all to downplay the effects any of these storms had on people in their paths. Folks lost their homes, their lives, their towns... But the attitude changed a bit after Katrina and Rita hit.

Back in '02, there was still a prevailing sense of ambivalence. Sadly, as a college student working in retail, there was the honest to goodness fear that I would be fired because corporate NY didn't care that my dad wanted me out of the track of a potentially life-threatening hurricane, or that I would lose at least a semester of school because the college felt the same way. And not to sound snotty, but I worked hard to have to worry that they would take it away from me because I didn't stay for a possibly hurricane and attend classes.

My dad took each storm seriously. We had baskets of hurricane food each year that we would dive into at the end of hurricane season, only to refill a few months later. Ritz crackers and SPAM galore! The car had to stay gassed up during hurricane season in case we had to evacuate quickly.

In '02, Lili hit. We evacuated to north Louisiana where a church opened their doors to evacuees. I have to say, now that I'm further removed from the situation, that these were some of the nicest folks I have ever met. Not that I paid much attention as a barely 20 year old. I just wanted everything back to normal and I wanted to go back to school and back to work with no negative repercussions. And Lili hit my college town, causing damage and making people a little more alert to the possibility of a bad one.

I spoke to a friend of mine who sat out the storm and I was glad that I was safe in my temporary home with my cat, reading Stephen King. Which made everything go away, at least while I was buried in its pages.

From a Buick 8 landed on my doorstep just before the storm. I was still in the Stephen King book club, so it took a little longer for my copy to arrive than had I purchased it at the bookstore itself. But I was a broke college kid and it saved me some moula being in the club.

And this is what books do for me. They take me away. They let me experience things that I would never experience otherwise. They keep me turning pages late into the night, desperate to see what will happen next. They let me forget when the world could be literally coming down around me. They are total therapy for a worry-wort like me who imagines the absolute worst case scenario in each situation.

My mom and my sisters, when they had to leave the house for weeks during Rita, hit the bookstore. During snowstorms, much as I hated it as one who had to drive to work in the mess, the bookstore still had customers sitting in the comfy chairs and browsing the shelves. When I was in college and had a tough day, my mom would tell me to go buy a book on her. As an even broker teenager, just getting her drivers license, one of the two places I was allowed to drive was the library, where I would bring home a stack of books each week, returning to trade them in days later. My mom bribed me with books when my sisters were newborn and she didn't want the babysitter to be overwhelmed. I wasn't old enough to watch them on my own, but if I helped out, there would be a new book in it for me.

Anyway, I won't delete this one. I'll let it go as is. Everyone has their escape. I choose for mine to be in the form of the written word and bound pages of other people's imaginations.

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