The word “eirene” means “peace” in ancient Greek. Seriously.
I posted on the other blog that I was not where I was supposed to be. Not home, not with my kids, who are still across the country with their father.
That particular feeling–the feeling of not being where one belongs–is, for me, the most pervasive and persistent legacy of separation. When you’re married, you are always home. Even if you’re temporarily somewhere else, everyone’s waiting for you to get back; in a crisis or calamity, you know exactly where you need to go. You know your place.
Having driven to see my boyfriend last night for all the right reasons, I woke up this morning climbing the walls. I found it difficult to be blithe; a hurricane was coming, my house, a hundred miles to the south, was a sitting duck. I hadn’t taken down the birdfeeders or taken in the plants. The porch furniture was just waiting to get blown around and rained on and ruined. I didn’t have any candles, or a flashlight, or bottles of drinking water, or a cooler, or a stash of nonperishable food. I wasn’t ready. The cat was alone, and if a tree fell on the house she’d be in trouble. I fretted and agitated and called people, asking them what I should do. Predictably, those who tend to worry a lot (and who had been through hurricanes) told me to go home. Those who don’t, and who hadn’t, told me to chill out.
I tried to chill. I went to the public library, normally a soothing environment, where I joined the tables filled with good-looking unemployed writers and semiotics scholars (the guy across from me, batting his eyelashes over Baudrillard, could have been in a Giorgio Armani ad) and began, frantically, to Google. I learned that the mayor of New York was evacuating low-lying areas, and that public transportation was slated to shut down. I checked traffic. I checked it again. I emailed my boyfriend, who emailed back telling me to relax. I couldn’t relax. I ran through it all again: boyfriend here, house there, children over there. I was in the wrong place.
I began to obsess over my boyfriend’s parents. They live alone. His mother uses a chairlift to get up and downstairs. The only bathroom in their house is on the second floor. If the electricity cut out–which it would, because it always does in hurricanes–she’d be stuck. Did they have flashlights and food? Did they know to run the tub till it was full of water, the way my grandmother always did in hurricanes? I texted my boyfriend, who told me not to worry. All around me people were peacefully reading, or writing, or tapping away on their laptops. I took one last frantic look around, and then I fled.
I’m home now, on my porch. I got home in time to swim for twenty minutes in the twilight and lay in a few supplies. The cat’s hunting moths and spiders, like she does every night–an awful lot of bugs get into my porch through the ancient, holey screens. Tomorrow I’ll bring all the furniture in, and by the end of the weekend the screens might be ripped right off. The kids are flying home tonight–in a few minutes I’ll get in the car and go pick them, and my ex-husband, up at the airport. I’ll drop him at his house and bring the kids to mine. And tomorrow we’ll hunker down and let the storm hit.
All my existential woes will seem awfully trivial and self-indulgent if the roof blows off, I know. But right now, self-indulgently and trivially, I’m a bit mopey. I was definitely in the wrong place this morning, and I’m glad I left when I did, but even this place–mine– doesn’t feel peaceful, or strong against the storm, or fortified, or safe, or right.