If you and I were drinking coffee together, sitting in that Starbucks, you know the one, the one across the road from David’s Photography, where I once posed for my portrait, the gleam still in my eye, I’d tell you about my week.
When we add sugar to the thick dark Java, a tablespoon for you, a teaspoon for me, I’d close my eyes, to shut out the noise of the barista’s chatter. And I’d tell you.
Even if my voice quavered like a leaf in the wind, I’d whisper to you about my week, when Fear knocked on my door, when that dame rose from the oceans and shook the very ground.
I’d tell you how my breath came in short shuddering gasps, day after day. And what it felt like to watch CNN, 24/7, the constant, relentless red swirling circle on the screen, voices talking endlessly about this monstrous cyclone reaching from coast to coast, covering tiny islands and whole countries, an angry storm as large as Texas. obscuring a peninsula from the scrutiny of satellites whirling through the blackness of space.
Blowing on my coffee, its hotness a reminder of an endless summer lashed by days of dense wet air and more storms than I remembered from my childhood, you would hear my voice close to your ear, divulging my sins of despair and hopelessness. For, I need to to ask you, “Do you think, for a moment, that Mother Nature, is sending us a message? Is this war? A fight against forces we cannot see? Has something evil been unleashed?”
“I think of the endless dark nights without power, with flood waters rising outside, abandoned animals crying, homeless people fleeing, all caught in the wrath of this behemoth,” I confess.
You would reach out with your smooth pale hands, your long artist fingers taking mine, rubbing the shaking away, soothing me with your wise and calm voice, “It’s a mystery, yes. We can’t know, can we?” I’d raise my eyes and wipe away the tears as I bring the cup to my lips. It’s a white stoneware mug. Not Styrofoam. Something that lasts. At least until someone drops it, shattering it into a thousand pieces, scattered across the tiles floor.
“Please don’t speak in platitudes,” I’d say to you, pulling my hand away. We both stir the coffee, our eyes lowered.
You would reply, no doubt, “But I don’t know what to say. It’s not happening to me. I sleep at night in my dry bed. The wind isn’t blowing my roof off. The creek behind my house only rises a foot or two after the snow melts in the spring.”
Survivors of disasters carry many emotions with them after the winds die down and debris lines the streets, awaiting the orderly pick up scheduled by the powers that be.
Yet, in the rush to return to normalcy, whatever that might be, something changes. The fierceness of these storms accelerates, their reach grows larger, the potential for destruction increases.
And, for now, Fear moves into the spare room, in the attics of our minds.
I need a coffee date. Now. To talk about this. To think about what it all means.
Today I pick up the pieces. But is that enough?