Twenty six years ago I was in Virginia Beach and bracing for Hurricane Gloria. I was living about three blocks from the ocean with my dad, who was terminally ill, my sister, who was in college, and our two geriatric cats. It fell to me to carry out the recommended preparations for what they were calling the storm of a generation. I bought tape for the windows, batteries for the flashlights and radio, and water to drink. I filled the tub, secured the porch furniture, and when they recommended evacuating our neighborhood, I panicked a little, mostly about the cats.
"What should we do?" I asked my dad.
"You can do what you want," he said, drawing an X on his hurricane tracking grid (they put one in the Sunday supplements every week from June until November), "but I'm not going anywhere."
And so we stayed to literally weather the storm. It was supposed to hit sometime around midnight, but after all the running around I had done, I passed out about 10, after moving my bed away from the windows, of course. I remember waking up once and squinting out the window. The night seemed darker than usual, but when it came into focus, I saw trees bent over almost double and rain pelting horizontally. It looked like a typhoon on Gilligan's Island and I lay back down and went to sleep.
The next morning my dad and my sister told me about the storm-- how they had stayed up and the power had gone out and they had retreated to an inner hallway when it was at its worst. In the end there was no damage and as they went off to bed exhausted by the ordeal, I headed down to the freshly scrubbed beach to see what the storm had left.