The first hurricane I remember living through had the same name as a boy I had a crush that month in school: Andrew.
I was four and I don’t remember much except that I thought hurricanes had magical powers.
The wind made me feel like I could fly and sometimes it made our entire house shake, which made me feel like I was on a ride at Disney World.
I don’t remember losing power, or climbing over fallen trees, or traffic lights going dark, or realizing that I was the lucky one, until I went to school and heard about the unlucky ones.
The ones who lived in Miami who watched their roofs fly off and their houses crumble and their parent scream and I wondered why and how that could happen.
I used to like hurricanes.
I used to think they were fun. It was a chance to stay home, listen to battery operated radios, hide in the bath tub, eat cans of tuna, make hand puppets from the flash light glow against the wall. I thought it was an adventure showering in the dark and wondering how many more toilet flushes I could use before the water ran out.
As I got older, hurricanes gave me anxiety. What would I do with no cell phone service? What would happen if I couldn’t check my emails?
The weather was no longer magical and instead, watching the house shake and the windows make noises like they were about to shatter, and seeing roof tiles fly off and away, made me want to cry.
Hurricanes became about wondering if the roof would fly off, when the lights would go off, when the toilet wouldn’t have any more water left inside to flush, when the batteries would stop working, when it all would just end.
I remember one year, before the hurricane hit, I was standing outside with my mom, admiring how beautiful the weather was in that moment. It was the most breezy and cool summer day my body had ever felt.
“Hurricanes are stupid,” I said.
“This isn’t the hurricane,” she replied. “This is just the lull before the storm.”
And that’s something that’s haunted me ever since, that odd calm before a storm, before everything shakes, including your own guts.