She’s Buying A Stairway to Heaven
We’re old hands at this hurricane thing in Florida. As soon as a blip in the
tropics is born, we go into The Mode. This includes cutting off your best friend
for a better spot in the gas line, stocking up on canned stuff you’d never eat
otherwise, buying batteries in bulk whether they fit your flashlights or not.
Hauling home a dozen gallons of bleach is mandatory. I don’t know why we do this, because we’ve never used ours. We buy it anyway.
And when you live in the worst of all locations in our otherwise tropical
paradise—the Evacuation Zone—you give yourself plenty of time to find
a hotel room inland.
Wilma was a long time coming. She paused to the south and curtsied
for a while, and I made the first hotel reservation, patting myself prematurely
on the back for finding a spot at a chain known for actually providing
clean towels and soft toilet paper.
She sashayed to the west, and it seemed briefly as if she were
headed for a Mexican vacation. I cancelled our reservation.
She overstayed her welcome in formerly sunny Mexico
and headed back into the Gulf, twirling and staggering like she’d downed
too much tequila. Would she fizzle? Would she head north?
Just in case, I made another reservation. This time at a place a notch
under the first. They promised there would be no fleas.
By the time Wilma finally decided just where in Hades she was going,
an inch at a time, I’d cancelled and rebooked two more times and the
desk clerk at Fleas Ain’t Us was getting a little peeved.
She was on her way, and the last reservation was at Cots Fer All.
Except the sign on the outside had the “er” missing. Prophetic.
The winds were whipping madly by now and everything was battened
down but us. With my key in the ignition, Cots calls and informs me part of their
roof has just waved goodbye, and they’ll have to cancel.
Sure. No problem.
And ,my husband, the dog and me—we spent four hours together
on the bathroom floor ( which I’d remembered to scrub) with a mattress
over our heads because there was no room at the inn. When it no longer
sounded like alligators on steroids chomping on the roof, I made it to
the window to investigate an especially awful thud.
It ended up being my neighbor’s front steps, now a foot from my car.
My husband starting singing “Stairway To Heaven”. I elbowed him, hard.
Next hurricane season, I’m climbing stairs to the plane that’ll catapult me
to New Jersey until it’s over.