With Hurricane Dorian wobblingly whamming into the Bahamas, memory slips back in time to my favorite childhood hurricane. I know, not everyone has a favorite hurricane. But I do. For it was during those two and a half, halcyon days spent without electricity, television or distracted parents that I remember having positive notice from my parents.
It's a snapshot in my mind, uploaded to the cloud of my brain.
It began a few months earlier when my father's job moved from New York City. My father hated NYC, always saying one day they'd pull the plug and the whole mess would disappear down a sewer like rats at night.
When we moved from New Jersey to Houston TX. I was thrilled. Texas! Everything was bigger in Texas. The heat was bigger. The humidity was soggier. Giant cockroaches exited the fireplace masonry into the family room; scorpions walked across the kitchen floor.
Texas was exotic for this 11-year-old girl.
Then my 21-year-old brother seriously warned me that the largest number and variety of poisonous snakes were to be found in Houston TX. I swore off walking on the grass, staying on the pavement for months to come. Maybe it wasn't such a tease, for a year later as a friend and I played in the back yard, she was bitten by a rattlesnake. My mother murderously swung a hoe down, chopping off the head of the snake that was bundled off to the hospital to get the right anti-venom, with my friend.
Back to school was cancelled the year Hurricane Carla hit. We didn't have snow days in Texas, but hurricane days? Though a sloppy, slow hurricane, Carla was and is still powerful enough to hold the number one spot on the Hurricane Severity Index of Atlantic hurricanes in the USA.
Before cable TV, online newspapers, social media and the electronic interconnectiveness of the 21st century, there were newsprint newspapers, television and radio in the 20th century. When Hurricane Carla's winds knocked the electricity out, the newspapers didn't appear and the black box television was silent in the darkened family room. All that we had was this newish technology, the transistor radio.
As for those 2 1/2 days they were an outlier moment when my parents spent time with me without getting irritated by their youngest child. I remember carefully carrying a candle down the hall bathroom---smiling at the joy I felt in my heart.
Maybe things would be better in Texas.
With the electricity off, we three sat in the shadows of the kitchen table watching the wind and rain show. The eerie, nauseous yellow light of the storm replaced by brilliant sunshine as the eye passed over us. For hours we played board games non-stop. Only days earlier if I'd dare ask either parent to play a board game, the request would have been met by some version of being "too busy".
Then I had been underfoot, but didn't know why. Was it what I'd heard others say? That I'd been an accident? How are children accidents? For the record, my sister and brother are 15 and 10 years older.
When my mother's stash of gallons of pistachio or coffee flavored ice cream began to melt, she offered ice cream to the neighborhood children. I hoped for friendships, but before their ice cream cones had melted, I was met with scorn by one and all.
A big fish in the small city pond of KHOU-TV, local newsman Dan Rather soon made a splash in the bigger pond of New York City. As one website describes it, "The first live television broadcast of a hurricane from the location experiencing it was during Hurricane Carla by the famous Dan Rather."
After the electricity was back on, I was back to being my parents irritation and playing board games alone. When I explained I'd done this to my grandson, he looked me in the eye in all seriousness to ask. "Did you cheat?"
No, why would I? When you play you, you always win.