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.
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