I used to be terrified of hurricanes. The fear and anxiety in me would latch onto these storms like Crazy Glue. Yet with Hurricane Earl approaching New England, I’m feeling strangely apathetic.
Maybe it’s because I don’t live on the coast anymore. In Haverhill, we’re not expecting much from Earl. Some of it is definitely because a lot of the storm-driven fear left me when I brought the OCD under control.
Let’s do a flashback so you can get a better perspective:
I grew up on Revere Beach and I think the Blizzard of 1978 traumatized me for a long, long time. Every summer, when a hurricane would head toward us, I’d start having Blizzard of 78 flashbacks of the ocean surging down the Lynnway, right in front of my house, and the waves leaping over the sea wall with chunks of ice that hit the closest homes like missiles.
The tops were torn off some of the pavilions along the beach.
They stayed that way until a beach restoration project in the early 1990s. In the 1980s the exposed frames served as a reminder of what these ocean storms could do. For a long time, every nor’easter riding up the coast filled me with anxiety.
The TV news doesn’t help. Impending storms are more often than not pitched as the coming apocalypse.
From the late 1970s straight through the 1990s, I’d shake from weather reports mentioning the Blizzard of 1978 with each new storm. As a young adult, I developed a pattern of throwing a blanket over my head and going to sleep.
That’s exactly what I did in 1985 when Hurricane Gloria grazed us and, at age 21 in August 1991, when New England took a direct blow from Hurricane Bob.
My step-sister still likes to bring up how, on the morning Hurricane Bob was coming, I came into her room and yelled at her to wake up, telling her, “This aint no (expletive) Gloria.” That was me in OCD mode. I’m a little embarrassed every time I think about it, but that’s OK. Nobody got hurt.
That rough weather scared the heck out of me as a kid, I think, was perfectly normal. Carrying that same fear and anxiety well into adulthood? Probably not so normal.
In more recent years, I’ve overcome that fear, and I actually like a good storm now and again. I love to drive through the snow. And when Washington D.C. got smacked with 30-plus inches of heavy snow in a blizzard during one of my visits there last February, I gleefully walked the streets as the storm continued to rage.
This morning, I find myself wanting to grab my camera and drive to Cape Cod, which never would have occurred to me a few years ago.
Instead of fearing the danger, I want a piece of it.
I’m not going, though. Erin and the kids would not approve, nor would my friend Bob Connors, an emergency preparedness professional who has been warning his Facebook friends all week not to do stupid things like that. Since he sometimes supplies me with high-end cigars, I really don’t want to make him mad.
To my friends on the South Shore, I hope everything goes OK and that the damage is minimal.
I still respect these storms, and when we’re under the gun I know we have to be prepared.
I’m just not letting the fear suck the life out of me anymore.