Perfect Storms

When I was a kid, I loved extreme weather: snowstorms, hurricanes, blackouts. Anything that promised to take everyday mundane life into an exciting surreality was total fodder for my fantastical, escapist, bored-at-school brain. I remember staring out the old smudged school windows in junior high biology, imagining the thrilling things that would come to pass, after the next Blizzard, Tornado, Zombie Apocalypse SuperFlu hit. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy junior high biology, but I enjoyed imagining the practical applications of biology to an exciting drama in my head more. Who would survive? What would we eat? Would family mutts go feral?

I was obviously not alone in this hobby. See: every disaster movie ever made. But then we grow up, and we learn that natural disasters are just that, disastrous, and they hurt us in grownup ways. People get hurt, houses get ruined, lives get destroyed.

But sometimes that imp of the perverse still lingers deep down, that 12-year-old dork who wants to spend the night sleeping in the museum because no one can get home. I bet some boys would imagine video game hijinks would then ensue, while I was content to picture our town covered in snow, or water, or everyone gone except a few survivors, wolves and tumbleweed invading the empty, silent streets. Sure, it would be sad, and I’d miss people and stuff, but wouldn’t that be cool?

Maybe as adults what we enjoy is that rare camaraderie that big, collective events bring. Now, finally, suddenly, everyone is talking about the same thing on the Facebook feed. We feel part of one coherent community, and for once the enemy isn’t each other, but it’s that Hurricane. Or the elements. Isn’t that how we were meant to live? A big group hunkered down against the lions and tigers?

No one wants anyone to get hurt, or lose property, but barring that, we revel in the work and school closures. In the weird timeout of being stuck at home, taking the kids sledding, or driving down to see huge waves lashing our familiar shorelines, life seems, well, just a little bit more lifelike.