“Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
If I stay it will be double.”
— The Clash
“I don’t think I’ve ever been this afraid,” I emailed a friend at 6:00 on Sunday morning. I’d been cowering on the couch listening to Irene pummel my house with rain and wind since 3:00. My mantra for the next six hours: please don’t let the tree fall, please don’t let the tree fall, please don’t let the tree fall.
It didn’t, thank goodness, and my home and property were graciously spared any damages. I’m happy to say, I managed just as well — either because of or despite the lack of electricity for several days.
To be quite honest, I was a little sad to see the lights come back on. Some time “off the grid” was a blessing — a chance to read, straighten, think, walk, nap. With no pressure to do anything else.
“Time to just be,” my friend suggested.
It took a while to get there. After the adrenaline of Sunday morning wore off, there was the internet detox to face — what? no email? But that was slowly replaced by a beautiful rhythm – if you are tired, you sleep; if you are anxious, you walk; if you are bored, you read; if you are fidgety, you clean. With no schedule or appointments or ringing alarms to tell you otherwise.
Outside of the iPod Nano, the pitcher of caffeinated ice tea in the fridge, the old-fashioned land line, and the glowing book light, what kept me fairly calm throughout was my little notebook filled with lists.
Thought I would share them, since they pretty much tell the rest of the story.
What to Bring if I Go
in case I decide to evacuate
3. Winnie the Pooh (circa 1966)
4. a necklace from my Grandmother
5. the backup hard drive + photo CDs
6. green tea
8. Emily + cat food
10. address book
What to Do if I Stay
in case the power goes out
1. finish Walden
2. do the Whale Watch collage
3. put photos in photo album
4. straighten the art room
5. read birth chart/astrological report
6. start declutter of office space
7. put laundry away
8. proofread memoir piece
9. weed the garden
10. start The Portable MFA in Creative Writing
What to Do if I Survive
(the storm got very scary at one point)
1. get published
2. travel more
3. work on life wish list
4. write more
5. read more
6. make plans for a fall vacation
7. start taking vitamins again
8. submit memoir piece by October 1
9. spend more time on the screen porch
10. stop watching television
Things to Remember for Next Time
because Mother Nature seems determined to buck us off this planet
1. it takes about 24 hours to completely detox from modern technology
2. turn up the fridge to its highest setting before the storm, things keep cold longer
3. a box of chocolates is a good thing
4. feed the birds, they’re just as traumatized as we are
5. it really does make sense to have an emergency kit prepared
6. even the technology god is fallible; keep your land line
7. hard-boiled eggs are not a non-perishable food
8. cut down the damn tree
9. make a list
• • •
Photos ©2011 by Jen Payne
Top: Long Island Sound still churning after Hurricane Irene passes through.
Bottom: Curling up with Emily and Walden by Henry David Thoreau.