I was scheduled to be in Maine with my singing buddies this week. We had it planned for months — vocal and dance exercises every morning, rehearsals before lunch, a mid-afternoon dip in the lake, and evening parties and sing-alongs. Heaven for musical theater geeks.
But last week our host’s extended family underwent a serious crisis that forced us to postpone the trip.
When we first decided not to go, I thought that a week of unscheduled time could be a godsend. I planned a trip to the beach with one friend, a long lunch with another. I would sleep late, swim as many laps as I liked, spend quality time with my family, and catch up with writing I had neglected for too long.
None of that has happened. Instead, we had an earthquake, a fire in our building’s boiler room that forced me to climb 20 flights of toxic-smoke-filled stairs to reach my son, and spend the rest of the day battling nausea; and an impending hurricane that has our waterfront neighborhood half-skeptical and half-terrified.
Then, this morning, our 17-year-old cat, who had been failing over the past several weeks, died.
This is not my dream vacation.
Instead, it is real life. And I’m grateful to be here for it. The earthquake wasn’t earthshaking for us, but it was an experience, and the storm has been, too, so far. The fear in our building is not flooding — we are on a high hill, and our apartment is on the 20th floor — but loss of electricity and possibly our floor-to-ceiling windows blowing out. So we have enough food and water for several days, and an emergency plan, and we’re treating it as an adventure, which I hope it is.
Most of all, I’m glad I was home when Ben found Molly, our cat, and I’m glad I spent her last few days here with her.
I’m a member of our city’s Emergency Medical Corps, and I’ve been asked to report to a local shelter tomorrow to help people who have been evacuated and who are experiencing emotional distress. This is another opportunity I’m grateful that I’m here for.
But after this, I hope the opportunities dry up for a while. We all need a break, and probably a vacation, too.