It rained and it rained and it rained. Then it rained some more. I suppose Mother Nature had a point to make but whatever it was I think she overdid it. Being from the Bible Belt, I’m used to tornadoes – unspeakable amounts of destruction done in a matter of minutes. Flooding, though, is different. In some places, it happens quickly. But then it continues to spread out devastation over the course of days, creeping in silently and leaving you with the feeling that disaster is a deranged stalker.
We were ridiculously lucky. Our house and neighborhood were not flooded. Our office, at one point, was in imminent danger but was ultimately spared. In light of all that, one would think this was going to be a post of gratefulness for safety and dry conditions, right? No.
But it is a post about gratefulness.
I am by nature a private and guarded person and much too good at holding people at arm’s length without them even realizing it. A friend was once describing a person, who was a little too clingy, as in need of their own island. When I said that I hoped to never be that way, the friend responded, incredulously, “You!? You have your own continent!” It was funny, but also true.
The floods taught me I’ve come a long way in spite of that.
Last year at this time, we’d lived here for two months. We knew very few people and were just opening our office. If these floods had occurred then, we would have only known one set of neighbors. Granted, they are a wonderful, older couple I completely adore, but still they would have been it.
It didn’t happen last year though. It happened this year.
I miss my chosen tribe in Oklahoma. I miss people who can finish my thoughts and read my expressions. I miss walking in and out of each other’s houses and can’t even count how many times I went to the Labor Coach’s home in barely more than pajamas and flip-flops, hair pulled up, likely uncombed, and on more than one occasion, proceeded to eat straight out of the brownie pan.
My chosen tribe will never be replaced. They are ingrained in my soul, and I am stingy with the part of me that’s theirs. Our friendships were forged during the ten or so years we began having kids and nephews and nieces. All during my thirties – that decade when, as a wise person told me once, you start solidifying as a person.
But as the flooding disaster began, what became most apparent to me wasn’t just the dry condition of our house, but the friends we’ve made and relationships we’ve built. Literally from the beginning, I was surrounded by other people.
When the hard downpour started on Wednesday night, following a couple of days of slow but consistent rain, I was out running with one of our friends, the Artist, whose daughter is also now close friends with our own. They live very nearby so, the next day and evening, when the schools were already closed and the magnitude of the disaster was becoming clear and getting worse, we all burrowed down at her house. I walked in that morning totally unkempt, hair pulled up and donning barely more than pajamas.
Emails and phone calls started pouring in from out-of-state friends and family members checking on us, but there was local concern as well. We were included in groups of friends right here watching out for one another. As Longmont suddenly began flooding on Thursday, our dear friend, the Youngster, received her evacuation notice while at her office. Jodi tried valiantly to get her to her house so she could at least retrieve things first but it was too late. There was literally no way in as every route was already inaccessible. The Youngster stayed with us for two days and nights.
On Friday, the Artist and her daughter came over as well. The kids played, while the adults hung out, cooked meals together and watched movies. Inside jokes were born and memories made, even in the midst of the horror outside.
Some schools, including the Divine Miss M’s, opened two days ago. Life is returning to normal, though it will be a long process for some and for many, there will be only a new normal. The destruction is more encompassing than I can adequately describe in words and I’m not going to try. Obviously, it gives us a renewed perspective that being alive is enough, and having a roof over your head means your life is marvelous.
I recognize all that but what stood out to me was the people around us, people we care about and are even able to help. People whose lives are becoming intertwined with our own. There was a point last Friday afternoon, I was sitting at our table answering a group e-mail, planning the help one of the recipients would need. The other chairs around me were filled with friends and I could hear the kids laughing downstairs. I looked around and realized, we don’t just have friends, we have a community. I wondered, when exactly did that happen? I’m really not sure but am I ever grateful it has because that’s when you know you’re home.
(On a side note, I might have shirts made for the Artist and I that say, “I Ran in the Boulder Flood 2013” because the amount and heaviness of that rain was quite unexpected and unlike anything I’ve ever run in before. Granted, I only finished the last half because it was the only way to get out of that nightmare, but I’m pretty sure it makes us total bad a**es!).