Hermits Rock

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Tornado Annum

As of 8:37 this evening, it’s been a year.

I can sleep through a storm now. The cats, on the other hand, still are nervous when they hear thunder. I wonder sometimes what they remember. Is it a generalized fear that the world, small as it is, can collapse in upon them? Is it the knowledge that what is usually so distinctly outside can in fact burst through the windows and disrupt the sanctity of home?

We were right to move out of our apartment. Our former landlady still hasn’t finished the repairs (photos forthcoming, maybe). The roof still needs gutters and a dormer, the siding needs repair, and the whole needs to be painted again. I would not be surprised if the pear tree in the backyard, which was girdled in the storm and leaning precipitously when we left, is both dead and still there. Meanwhile, other houses on the block have been raised three feet, had all of their siding redone and roofs rebuilt—they’re almost finished. A number of the places elsewhere in town that were destroyed—St. Patrick’s, the Dairy Queen, Happy Joe’s, the sorority house—are either rebuilding on location or relocating. The city has, in other words, been rebuilding and recovering. $12 million and one life (outside of town) was the aggregate loss. All we lost was the trunk lid of our car (and, for a month, our comprehensive insurance), a few books and towels that couldn’t be cleaned, and some houseplants that got bedraggled by the shards of glass and dehydrated when we weren’t there to water them as often as they needed.

I take from it all the realization that safety is only ephemera. It doesn’t exist. No matter how much you secret yourself away, something can get you. Even so, it’s really a very good idea to hide—in a closet, in the bathtub, at the foot of the stairs, in the basement—as soon as you hear the tornado sirens blow.