We’re hunkered down in Sarasota, and over the next twenty-four hours, Irma is going to have her way with us. It’s only a little over a week ago that our hearts were going out to Texas. I shared a post with five organizations you could donate to if you wanted to help, never imagining I’d be in a similar boat today.
Here’s the abbreviated backstory…
We live south of Sarasota, just a couple houses from the inland waterway and a mile from the beach. As Irma moved north, our neighborhood had a voluntary evacuation order. We decided to stay. At 2:00 pm on Friday it became mandatory.
Now the question was where to go. Earlier in the week I had gassed both cars, made sure we had cash, canned goods, and water, and had the flashlights all ready, even back up power for cell phones and my laptop.
We could drive north, check into a shelter or move inland to our old house, which fortunately is up for sale, but unoccupied. It was in a safer zone with no evacuation order because it’s inland. We chose the house, also giving us the opportunity to get home as quickly as possible after Irma’s exit.
I know we made a logical decision and in fact, nobody in our old neighborhood left, but as the winds howl and we wait until tonight when Irma officially moves into the “hood” there’s a feeling I’ve never felt before…it’s called fear.
I’ve been nervous before with the butterflies I get before speaking at a convention or for many of you, that first wedding or event you’re about to shoot. You take a few breaths, and it passes, but this is different. But the butterflies have turned into flying gargoyles, and I found myself laughing at an expression our friend Holly used once, “Don’t make me bring out the flying monkeys!”
This is pure unadulterated fear of the unknown. It’s sweaty palms, a little bit of a shake in my hands and voice, a dryness in my mouth that feels like I’ve been eating sand all night. Lack of sleep has me looking more like Yoda than my old self. I find myself second-guessing which room is the best safe room in the house; when should we go into it; how will we know when it’s all clear. I think about how nice a hotel room almost anywhere in Georgia would feel right now.
I’m also thinking about how much Sheila means to me, and how much I love our life and oh yeah, want to keep it. And that’s where the ah-ha moment comes in. We’re here, and we’re together. While it’s not the very safest place on the planet, there’s no danger of the storm surge and while being in a Marriott in Atlanta would be safe and secure – we’ve never done anything the easy way.
Irma’s helping me understand my priorities, test my convictions and appreciate the safety we do have versus what so many others are facing in Key West, Miami and other parts of the world.
She’s also helped me appreciate the incredible network of friends and associates who have helped me this week. Prayers, good wishes and even some sound advice for dealing with our first hurricane.
So, on this anything but typical Sunday, I wish all of you safety, peace and an appreciation for everything in your life that makes you smile. Sheila’s getting hugs lasting a lot longer than eleven seconds – so don’t feel limited on the time you put into reminding those people most important to you how much you care.
Happy Sunday everybody – stay safe!
PS Irma is a taunting mistress. I’m never without my FZ300 and at sunset last night, literally the calm before the storm, the sunset was incredible, from all angles.