Denial and destiny by the sea

Waiting for Sandy in Cape May

3 minute read
Cape May beach: The count is three-and-two, and who's the umpire?
Cape May beach: The count is three-and-two, and who's the umpire?
The feral cat crosses the street and scurries down the gravel back alley, his night of hunting just beginning. The rain pours steadily. The wind, though still for the moment, threatens to burst out in a song.

My neighbors, those who live here in West Cape May year-'round, are all accounted for, and apparently prefer their cocktails by the TV monitors: On the tube, reporters tell them what they're experiencing. I, given the choice of video entertainment and live theater, prefer the real-life action from a screened-in porch.

It's Monday, October 30 at 5 p.m. Frankenstorm Sandy is approaching landfall somewhere between my house and Atlantic City.

I'm told it's safer to stay in the eye of the storm than to flee the rain. All day long I've been inundated with reports of impending doom and destruction as I prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I haven't taken a cavalier approach to my safety; but when I stop to think about it, cavalier may not be such a bad attitude.

Grandma's warning

For more than a century my family has owned property on this street (and we're still considered newcomers). According to family lore, the houses on our side have never flooded.

As a child I listened reverently as my grandmother told me about the day the ocean rose up to the corner. That was far in the past, and now a new home stands on that spot. But grandma's admonition about the power of the sea remains sealed in my memory.

Summers come and go in community like this one; tides ebb and flow, and the streams of memory and time unfold until something welds the past to the future.

Human pride sustains the fallacy that we command our fate. Our contradictory combinations of faith and reason help us negotiate the game of life; but in this game sometimes we forget we're not the umpires. When we're thrown a curve ball, how we react reflects how well we've been schooled in the sport. Tonight the count is three balls and two strikes. I await the next pitch.

The odds of my reaching first base are good. But as Yogi Berra did or didn't say, "It ain't over 'til it's over."

Fantasy life

I know a man who lives a fantasy life. He believes he's a historian and keeper of the archival flame of my town's history. As I sip my sherry, he's busy Tweeting away about Cape May's eminent destruction. He is worried— not for me, but the demise of his private Disneyland.

The mind is a terrible thing to waste on such trivia. Our life is a gift. We step up to the plate and give it our all. Our folklore defines our playing field, but it doesn't define us.

That wild cat outside my house gets closer to the heart of the matter. Storm or no storm, it's nightfall and his time to hunt. That's why he lives.

So, with a closet stocked with D batteries, bottled water and space blankets, I lean back in my rocker and brace myself. I'm in this game. Bring it on.

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