Our hurricane anniversary story
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Some of my Sparkie friends know the hurricane anniversary story, but a lot of my friends here don't - so today's blog will be the story of why DH and I celebrate the anniversary of Hurricane Marilyn as the day that we became a couple.
We met at synagogue, and spent a year being just casual acquaintances. After about a year, in September, I called him when Hurricane Luis was heading to St. Thomas, and we spent the hurricane together - except the storm turned at the last minute, after wreaking havoc on St. Marten and other islands, sparing the USVI from its wrath.
DH and I either saw each other or talked on the phone every day, for ten days, between Luis and Marilyn - and, when Hurricane Marilyn was heading toward us, he called and said come on over. So I did.
Marilyn was on September 15, 1995 - a Friday night. We lit Sabbath candles, sang the blessings, had a nice dinner at the table (I brought over the food) - it was a nice quiet dinner. We sat around talking, listening to the radio reports of the storm as it approached. I don't remember what time the power went out, maybe 9-ish. Around midnight, a sudden strong gust of wind blew the front door open (and broke the lock) - DH went to try to close it, and I noticed that the roof/ceiling was beginning to flap in the wind. I grabbed my evacuation backpack and ran into the bathroom, DH following. He sat on the toilet, I burst into tears I was so freaked out - we just held each other a moment. The wind and the noise and the sound of breaking glass grew worse and worse - then suddenly the wind came from the other direction, the bedroom doors blew off and crashed into the bathroom door and broke that latch - DH had me sit on the counter (there was a torrent of water coming in from the ceiling, like a small waterfall, we never did figure out where all the water was coming from) and he stood and held the door mostly shut for the next four hours, while the storm raged around us. We held hands, we talked, we were quiet, we talked some more. I huddled under a blanket, soaking wet and shivering - DH leaned on that door, bouncing back and forth in the gusts of wind.
Finally, about 4 AM, the wind was not as wild - I suggested we go up to the road and sit in my car with the heater on, to warm up - we peaked out of the bathroom, shined the light out, and could see the harbor - the walls of the apartment were gone. We ended up both cuddled under the blanket, on the bathroom counter, kissing - what else was there to do?
We tried going outside at first light, maybe 6 AM - but I was blown into the side of the house, so we staggered back into the bathroom. Finally, maybe 8:30 AM, the wind was only around 50 or 60 mph (we guessed) - we went out. Apartment gone. Sink, stove, fridge, cabinets - all gone. Walls, gone. Bedrooms there, but it looked like they had gone through the blender - drawers open, items strewn all over mixed with muddy water and broken glass. We wandered upstairs, to the road, and there was my little Tercel, upside down, tires in the air, and not a shred of glass in him. We looked up and down the road as other people came out, all of us looking shell-shocked, and not a bit of green to be seen - trees, bushes, yards denuded. Cars on their sides, one car on someone's roof, roofs in the road - a mess.
Eventually DH and I walked the 3 miles to my apartment, and we ended up spending the night there - my porch had blown away, my stairs were uprooted and in crazy directions, I had one broken window and some water - but there was a roof, walls, and a dry bed.
And that was it. We became a couple, although we lived separately for 7 more years - until we finally got married.
So this is our anniversary - and, in two months, on November 15, we'll celebrate our other anniversary, the day of our wedding. (The week when it rained, at record-breaking levels, causing horrendous floods, mandatory curfews, school closed half the week, police closing our family party down early, a friend getting evacuated from her hotel room.......it was quite the weekend.)
Anyhow - life is exciting, sometimes more than we want it to be - but it's pretty amazing to begin a relationship in the middle of a Category 5 hurricane!