I went to bed last Tuesday evening around 9:30 p.m. Using the vast meteorological knowledge I had acquired by earning a communications degree from the University of South Alabama, I decided around 8 p.m. that Sally was going be a category 5 dud. Such a dud, in fact, that before I went to bed I taunted the little category 1 storm by saying, “This dishwasher isn’t really full enough to start, and this thing is falling apart. I doubt we even lose power! I am just going to wait until the morning.”
Ha! I guess I showed you, Sally! You don’t even scare me enough to start the dishwasher.
Around 2 a.m., our power went out. I stayed in bed for another hour, waiting for the AC to come back on. Of course, a little tropical storm would knock the power out for a minute, but it should come back on fairly quickly, right?
The relentless howling of the wind outside of my window finally forced me out of bed to see what Sally was fussing about. A quick check of my phone and I saw she was no dud. Sally had strengthened to a cat 2 and was still VERY slowly making her way to land. A hurricane that moseys is not good. (Even a chick with a communications degree knows that.)
I have ridden out many a storm in this area — including Ivan and Katrina — and I will have to say, as I watched the trees bend back and forth in the night sky, this one scared me the most. Maybe because it was so dark and everyone else in my house was somehow sound asleep. Or maybe it was just because I wasn’t expecting so many pine and oak trees to surrender or all of the transformer pyrotechnics we experienced, but Sally definitely provided some excitement and had my attention.
Around 5:30 a.m., I Googled, “What time is sunrise in Mobile, Alabama?”
I know if I felt that way, our neighbors in Baldwin County must have been losing their minds — along with their roofs and docks and boats and cars … or entire homes.
What a long night.
When the sun finally rose at 6:38 a.m., there was much damage to assess. Trees and limbs down everywhere. One of my best friends woke up when a large oak tree fell on her house, the limbs piercing into her bedroom where she and her husband were sleeping.
The stories from Gulf Shores and Orange Beach were even more harrowing, with people wading through waist-high water or hanging on to pilings in a marina.
But everyone got up the next day, put their shoes on and started cleaning up. Neighbors and even complete strangers helped one another pick up debris from one another’s yards. People shared food, water, cold beer and chainsaws. Conversations turned from damage to generators and who was open and who had gas and ice.
When Alabama Power and the many, many other fantastic companies from other states came to our rescue, we all texted one another to see “who had heard what about when it would be back on” or what blocks had been lucky enough to get back on the grid first.
By Sunday, most everyone in Mobile went from hearing the constant whir of generators to AC units taking turns cutting on and off. And these heroes were still working feverishly to get all of Baldwin back on into the following week. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
What a beautiful effort … from everyone.
And nowhere in any of this did anyone care if their neighbor was a Trump supporter or had a Doug Jones yard sign. There were far more important matters to address. No one was on the blue team or red team, just one big, thoughtful, caring, cleanup crew.
I’m not really sure why it takes a disaster to bring us together. We are all still the same people when the limbs are picked up and the power is back on. You can find something good in almost everyone.
Thank you, Sally, for reminding us of that.
On Friday night, as many were just getting power back and dreaming of making sweet, sweet love to Thomas Edison (we were all doing that, right?), news broke of the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “the notorious RBG.”
Ginsburg was born in 1933, a few years after my own grandmother, who would have turned 91 last month. My grandmother married young and raised a family. She never went to college or had a career of her own, because that is just what was done. I think I always assumed that is just what she wanted because she must have chosen that for herself, right? I know she loved her family, but it’s probably more likely that path was her only choice.
Think about how quickly things have changed in just a couple of generations. It never even occurred to me I might not have the opportunity to go to college or pursue the career I wanted or buy my own house. My grandmother did none of those things. And I definitely have taken all of these now seemingly “normal” things for granted.
RBG fought for women to have these rights even before she became a justice or “notorious.”
She didn’t want special treatment; she just wanted women to have the same opportunities as men. As she famously said, “I ask no favor for my sex; all I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”
Thank you, Ruth, for fighting for me and my daughter and her daughters. And my son’s daughters, too.
Like every other woman, I am indebted to RBG for fighting the good fight on gender equality issues, among many other things, but it was her much talked about friendship with her ideological opposite Justice Antonin Scalia that makes me respect her even more, especially during the highly polarized times we live in.
They disagreed in their interpretation of the Constitution — he was pro-life, she was pro-choice and on and on — but they respected each other, and they were friends, “best buddies” even, as she put it.
At the ripe old age of 43, I remember having heated arguments in college over issues with friends or classmates and then going to get beers afterward, where we continued to talk about religion or politics or just moved on to what happened on the latest episode of “Seinfeld.” Very rarely did anyone have a disagreement and then completely despise a person for it. Maybe because it was done face to face, instead of over a keyboard.
But in any case, there seems to be less and less space for uncomfortable, challenging, thought-provoking dialogue these days. More and more reasonable human beings are afraid to say anything at all for fear of castigation by one of the many mobs.
And that’s just not good.
How will we ever come together if we intentionally stay apart and not even attempt to understand an opposing viewpoint?
I certainly never knew RBG, and I won’t speak for her, but I feel like she would absolutely hate that. I hope the next generation of women who are proudly sporting a T-shirt with her image on it or crocheted collar earrings think about that as they interact with people they disagree with. We learn far more when we spend time outside of our own echo chambers. Plus, it’s just way more interesting.
As one wise woman once said, “Fight for the things that you care about but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
Raging on Facebook and Twitter hasn’t led anyone to join anyone on anything. I’m pretty sure that is a verse in the Bible.
It’s been a long week, but two “ladies” have reminded me of some really important things. Sadly, it’s been through death (Ruth) and destruction (Sally), but it’s often during these darkest times we learn the most about ourselves and one another.
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