Well, thunder still crackles through a grey sky here in Miami, but the bront of the storm has passed. Katrina burst into my life in not quite a happy time, thoroughly disrupting my already disjointed routine with more catastrophic news.
Wednesday night, on my way to our first PLC (Professional Learning Community; TFA likes to throw new acronyms at us every month or so) meeting, I got the news that Dade County Public schools would be closed do to an approaching category 1 hurricane called Katrina. Well, I thought, at least I won’t have to be at school while enduring a painful, awkward breakup. Whenever things get really, really bad, fate seems to find a way to release the pressure until it’s just barely tolerable.
“Just barely tolerable” consisted of me watching Dave pack up his belongings, clean out his half of my closet, and nervously load up the green volvo station wagon that had been parked outside of my apartment since May. Tears abounded, as did unanswered questions as he drove away. I walked out into the very beginnings of Katrina and stood in the rain until I got cold, not really understanding what was happening to me. The wind picked up, and seemed to blow every emotion out of me. There was this huge emptiness in the pit of my stomach that didn’t want to go away, so I curled up in my bed and cried myself to sleep.
Hours later, I awoke to the sound of rain on my windows, and the voice of my roommate: “Thea, Dave’s car broke down in Ft. Lauderdale. We’re going to go get him. If you don’t want him to be here, let me know, and he can stay somewhere else.” I honestly thought that when he left that would be the last time I saw him for a long, long time. Sure enough, DDH was back in dPlace along with a pizza for our housemates. We all watched “Moulin Rouge,” and right at the climax of the movie the flickering lights finally cut off for good. Feeling about as fried as a blown transformer, I went to bed without a word. Out, as they say, like a light.
The irony of this situation is that *our* lights would continue to stay out for 5 more days.
I got up early on Friday morning to assess the damage from the storm (that’s the literal storm, not the figurative one going on in my personal life), and walked down the street towards our local park. Along the streets, there were trees down, and dead stoplights, but it looked like a bunch of people were going to work. I stopped to take pictures of a crushed hotel sign from “The Bayside Inn,” a run-down ex-brothel two blocks from our apartment complex. A white van pulled up beside me, and an emaciated middle aged man with a dirty beard poked his head out of the window. “Taking pictures of the damage?” “Uh, yeah,” I replied with a hesitant smile. “Wanna go for a ride?” “Uuuuh, no thanks.” More than a little unsettled, I walked more quickly than normal into the gated commmunity that surrounds our park. As I strolled through debris filled streets, the bizarre encounter started to make more sense. Biscayne Boulevard, where I had been walking earlier, is pretty much office space for hookers. Even in my recently-awakened state, I guess this man just thought I was a prostitute. Oh, fantastic. At least he wasn’t trying to abduct me, right?
On with the day.
Our first place of refuge was Aventura Mall. I left Dave at home to try and deal with his car, mostly because I didn’t feel like dealing with him. A movie and some shopping later (not so successful distractions), I still didn’t feel like talking, or eating. I sat through an awkward dinner at our friendly neighborhood cafe with my 3 roommates and ex?-boyfriend before returning home and proceeding to get drunk on the steps of our darkened house with a bottle of pinot noir.
Some time around 2:00 am, I wander next door, where Dave is sleeping on the couch, and try to talk to my housemate, whose bedroom door is locked. As my outlet for rage and/or self-pity is stymied, I stumble back to my own appartment, now having woken up Dave. He, of course, wants to talk. I want to yell. There was much talking, a little yelling, and of course more tears all night long. But along the way we somehow got clear that 1. Dave wants to go to D.C. for a job. 2. I still love Dave. 3. Dave still loves me. and 4. Long-distance relationships, while sucky, are not the end of the world. Maybe I hadn’t made clear my desire to stay together; we sure as hell didn’t make our short-term plans clear; and all over there had been misunderstandings (pretty much unbeknownst to me) for about a month.
By the time the sun started to rise, I was officially spent, emotionally and physically, but at least I was sleeping back in his arms again, instead of alone with Eeyore.
“On account of the car” AKA in order to salvage our relationship, DDH stuck around for another week, sleeping in other people’s apartments after the heat got to be too much to stand in our power-less place, watching marathons of the O.C. at Mary’s boyfriend’s apartment, seeing more movies (the only places with power in Miami), and acting as refugees on Lincoln Road: camping out at coffee shops and cafe’s to plug in our cell phones/computers.
The weekend ended, and still 40,000 customers in South Florida had no electricity. We were 3 of those customers, sweating like mad and mopping melted ice cream out of our freezer. I chose to spend my last day of freedom at the beach, the one place where it didn’t feel disgusting to be hot. We went back to work on Tuesday, still without power in dPlace, and I was pissed as hell about that. Sometime on Tuesday evening, the lights lights flickered back on, and things began to return to normal.
I tried to get things back together, but there were some damages from the hurricane that can’t be mended quite as quickly as the ruined contents of a refrigerator. Dave still had to leave, and I still had a job to do, which I *hadn’t* done in over a week due to lack of power.
Somehow, I got through the week of school, saw Dave off on Thursday morning as he drove his now-healthy car up north, and also re-stocked the fridge. Things aren’t quite back to normal, and it’s been pretty hard adjusting to the long-distance thing again after living together this summer, but at least I don’t have this awful emptiness inside of me like I did before. We’re hoping for no more storms this summer; Katrina was a bitch, even if she might have kept Dave and me together. Hurricanes just end badly all around.