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A Hurricane in my Mailbox

Hurricanes can arrive in the mail. They swirl in the form of an unexpected bill that’s due right now when the bank account is dry. A card from a former friend, perhaps, telling you they’ve manipulated events behind your back to keep you from a place you treasure. Slick catalogs beckoning you to point-and-click to every glossy, styled-just-so item. Even junk mail can feel blustery when it blows through the mailbox in a heaping stack. If one fails to go through every piece, will she shred something she really needs to see?

Then, there’s the letter I keep getting from DirecTV. The letter addressed to a person who’s not me. A person named Andra Murray. I haven’t been that girl in years. Yet, every time I see that name, the winds shift. My hair blows wildly around my head. I have to lean in to stay upright. I’m trapped again, swirling in the vortex of a hurricane of my own making.

Andra Murray organized at twenty-two, vowed into existence when I said “I Do.” I’d known him six weeks when I said “Yes” to marriage. I thought I knew everything. I could read the forecast of my life: marry a man with these characteristics, and the weather will be fine.

In the five years I spent swirling through the tight cloud bands of the storm of my first marriage, I learned how to exist in chaos. How to find quiet in the ever-shifting unpredictability. How to shout into the wrath of the hurricane. How to survive when I thought I might die. Two people can merge to form a thing of catastrophic mayhem, wreaking havoc on each other and everyone unlucky enough to be within the bounds of their projected path.

I guess I never thought the storm would hit me. Consume me. Leave me with a shell of what I had before it struck. The periodic letter from DirecTV is my day the Challenger exploded, the day President Kennedy was shot, the day the planes flew into the Twin Towers, the day Hurricane Hugo or Katrina made landfall. Less than 2,000 days of my life churn around me, beating me about with the reckless rage of Nature.

It passes.

Disasters make us grateful. They make us remember who loves us. We zero in on what matters, and we forget what doesn’t. I don’t stop this piece of junk mail because, at the end of the storm, I always look around me. I know I am safe. I am loved. I am home. I stared into the eye of the hurricane, and I survived.

Too Much is Just Enough: Surviving Disaster

 

39 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lou Mello #

    The “practice marriage” only serves to make us stronger and hopefully wiser going forward. Sometimes the letter serves to remind us of how great it is now compared to then. I have a lovely daughter from my “practice marriage” and that is the absolute best gift from that time.

    You have MTM, the Arch-Ninja- cheffy Dude; I’d say you came out a real winner!!

    August 25, 2011
    • And, I’m STILL laughing at the image of you crawling around on your driveway in the snow. I’m sure it wasn’t funny then……….

      My mistake marriage served (eventually, I’m a slow learner) to show me what to value. I will always be grateful for it.

      August 25, 2011
  2. Beautiful. I’m glad you got out. Some people don’t.

    (Today’s comment is short and to the point since my comment on yesterday’s post just turned into a commentary. Be on the lookout for a story tomorrow about how I hyped rain. Thanks for the idea.)

    August 25, 2011
    • Lou Mello #

      When I read your comment I thought it said “how hyped I am” instead of “how I hyped rain”. Either new glasses or a new brain is in order.

      August 25, 2011
      • Lou, you keep up with so many things, I don’t know how that doesn’t happen to you more often.

        August 25, 2011
    • This is the day I want some agent to decide to explore my writing. Really. I’m pretty dang proud of this one.

      August 25, 2011
      • Lou Mello #

        tis beautiousness in its truthiness.

        August 25, 2011
      • Spoken like a true fan of Stephen Colbert, Lou.

        August 25, 2011
      • As you should be.

        Sorry I used the other ‘d’ word in your comments section. Please shoot the messenger, folks, and not the one nice enough to put up with me…

        August 25, 2011
      • Oh stop. You be you.

        August 25, 2011
      • It’s really an awesome post. I’m glad you are proud. xoxo

        August 27, 2011
  3. mtm #

    I feel like a literary Storm Chaser…can’t seem to stop re-reading this post, as it embodies such tragedy and poignancy in a shroud of haunting and beautiful words.

    August 25, 2011
    • I’m with you on that MTM. That lady’s words are powerful!

      August 25, 2011
    • I guess some of your talking points over the weekend struck home with me, MTM.

      August 25, 2011
  4. Marie Edwards #

    You are some powerful writer Andra, I can just see the scenes you painted with your words. Love you and stay safe through this storm outside. I know the storms inside have quieted.

    August 25, 2011
    • Marie, you posted two comments, but I put them both up here. Glad you are inland and away from the worries of this kind of storm.

      August 25, 2011
  5. Marie Edwards #

    You are some powerful writer Andra! I can just picture the storms in your life through your writings but am so glad that you have weathered them with Michael by your side. And as for today’s strorm, stay dry and safe!

    Love you both!
    Marie

    August 25, 2011
  6. Thanks to Lou for the term “practice marriage.” It is so appropriate. My practice marriage yielded two wonderful sons and recognition of strengths I didn’t know I possessed. Happy to know that the storm you weathered brought you to the obvious safe harbor where you now reside.

    Thanks for continuing word messages that provoke much thought, as well as the occasional tear and/or smile.

    August 25, 2011
    • I always call mine my ‘mistake marriage.’ Lou’s term is probably more accurate.

      Thanks for continuing to read and comment on my writing. I’m glad FB helped me reconnect with you.

      August 25, 2011
  7. Andra, you learned so much and have said so much in this post. It’s clear you know who you are, and what is important in your life.

    We girls from Southern families of faith were taught that if the outward professions aligned with the characteristics of a Christian husband as the referenced blog post articulated, then we’d have a fine husband who would *care for us*, respect us and with whom we’d have a lovely life. However, it takes an extraordinary person to have the maturity, wisdom, insight and self-realization to have all that by the age of 22 or other youthful-marriageable age. Especially in our culture where young people are often preempted from making decisions for themselves.

    Faith and belief cannot always overcome human frailties. Only true self-insight coupled with those can. It’s frightening. But it is the only way to find one’s own path.

    Thanks for shining a light for us all.

    August 25, 2011
    • What was harder, I think, was realizing that what I had been taught to want in a husband might be possible someday, but not with the one I selected. The guilt and angst I felt over walking away, when divorce was one of the ultimate ‘bad things to do,’ really rocked my existence for a while.

      August 25, 2011
      • I’m right there with you on that one. I lingered for years when I should have departed. However, as others have said, my sons came via that marriage and the love that created them and they are massively important in my life.

        August 25, 2011
      • I got out thanking God and everything else I never had a child. I have never seen my ex again, though I do have cordial relations with several of my ex-in-laws.

        August 25, 2011
  8. Jill Clary Stevenson #

    Dan has been divorced from his middle wife (the first was truly a year long starter marriage) for over 20 years and we STILL get mail addressed to her. No matter how many times we move, she follows us. Sometimes, the mail is even addressed to her in her maiden name! I often wonder what would happen if I filled out those credit card applications…..oh…. forget I said that.
    I had completely forgotten your name was Murray. Lovely post today Andra. Enjoy the non-hurricane.

    August 25, 2011
    • I know it is possible to remove oneself from much junk mail. I did it several years ago, and it has reduced my unwanted junk down to a dribble. Maybe you could secretly save Dan (and yourself) some heartache and go online and do that in this instance. The link below offers extensive links and advice about how to do it.

      http://volunteerguide.org/volunteer/fifteen/junk-mail.htm

      August 25, 2011
  9. Your words resonate with me in a bittersweet way Andra. When I think of storms I think of my divorce and the loss of a child to cancer. The last storm almost ship wrecked us, but thanks to our faith in God and our love and commitment to one another we were able to weather that storm. This song is still difficult for me to listen to but it sums it up for me. I am so happy that you have weathered your storm and that you have MTM there by your side through it all.

    August 25, 2011
    • It always makes me happy when a reader sees him-or-herself in a post. Even though it was painful, I am glad you shared that it spoke to you, and I am grateful that you and Katy have each other through any storm of life.

      August 25, 2011
  10. This is so damn good I am speechless trying to find words to express it…Wow…

    August 25, 2011
    • I’m not often a writer’s writer, but once in a blue moon I approach it. Thank you.

      August 25, 2011
  11. I think I’m in the “uhhh…da da dumm” boat with Brett. You’ve managed to leave me speechless. Awesome, awesome, post.

    August 25, 2011
    • Thanks, Tori, for reading my blog and for being so dang entertaining on your own.

      August 25, 2011
  12. this took my breath away, andra. it gave me goosebumps. made me terribly sad, and incredibly full of hope l– all at once. yes, yes, yes.

    August 25, 2011
    • I’m glad it moved you, Dena. Your writing always speaks volumes to me. xo

      August 25, 2011
  13. I keep a small piece of the broken windshield to remind me of a car accident I caused years ago because I was upset about being dumped just to let me know I can get through anything.

    August 25, 2011
  14. Did I mention what a great post this is?

    August 25, 2011
    • Thank you. This post was a double dog dare of sorts. MTM told me over the weekend that I am a reader’s writer, not a writer’s writer. This was my attempt to prove to myself that I can rise to the level of the latter.

      August 25, 2011

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