The Unbearable Banishment: Riders on the storm

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Riders on the storm

It was an awful moment that will stay with me forever. I almost lost her in a gust of wind.

Mrs. Wife was away for the weekend. She took a well-deserved trip down to the shore with some friends. They had spa treatments and slept in ‘til ungodly hours of the morning. 8:00. 8:30. Such decadence.

That left me alone with The Daughters and a raging nor'easter heading up the coast. My plans to take them for a walk in the woods or to the boardwalk were dust. I hate to say this because it shows a complete lack of imagination, but I threw them in the car and, with the wind starting to howl and rain falling in sheets, headed to the mall.

Out trip didn’t last. We got there as the storm intensified and after about an hour, the power went out in the entire complex. The storm grew much bigger than anyone had anticipated. Entire city grids were blown out. We watched the indoor carousel as it slowed to a halt. I made light of the events but as we walked through a darkened Nordstroms, I got the sense that we might be in serious danger. We were quite a ways from home.

We reached the exit out to the parking lot. The weather was fierce. The wind was howling and I’ve never seen rain fall in such quantities or with such force. I put their hoods up and tied them. I picked up 3-Year Old, held her under my umbrella and told her to put her arms around my neck. I put my other arm around 8-Year Old. I told her to stay with me and to not run ahead through the parking lot because people couldn’t see three feet in front of them. We slowly made our way towards the car.

We reached the car. I opened the back door and 8-Year Old got in. While she was climbing in, I started to open the driver’s door, still holding 3-Year Old and my umbrella. And then it hit us. A powerful, blast of wind that came up from hell. I’ve never felt anything like it. It caught the driver’s door and flung it open. I thought it would be ripped off its hinges.

My umbrella was yanked out of my hand and shot straight up into the air. The clasp cut my finger. 3-Year Old’s hood flew off and the wind and rain caught her square in the face. Her head snapped back and her hair was flying perpendicular to the ground. Her face was in a horrible grimace. We were both instantly soaked to the skin. In a panic, she started kicking me and was slipping down out of my arms. In one unbroken motion, I jammed her into the front passenger seat, dove into the driver’s seat and slammed the door shut behind us. The interior of the car was drenched. The whole thing lasted less than 10 seconds but I will never, ever forget the look of abject horror on her little, 3-year old face.

The drive home was murder. The entire packed mall was emptying out all at once. Because the electricity grids had been knocked out, there were no traffic lights and no police had arrived to direct cars. It was pandemonium. While waiting in the long crawl to the exit, I could feel the wind buffeting and rocking the car. We sang Christmas carols. My hands started hurting and I suddenly realized that I was strangling the steering wheel.

* * *

I spent today cleaning the detritus of the storm out of my back yard. I’ve never lived through a storm season like this one. We were pounded with one blizzard after another. And now, this. It was reported that some wind gusts yesterday reached 75 mph.

There's a lot of this:

I also stumbled across this:


Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

OMG! How terrifying! Poor her! Poor YOU!
But at least, you are all safe. It'll make for lots of tales down the road.

March 14, 2010 at 11:34 PM  
Anonymous nursemyra said...

Storms are terrifying aren't they? Glad you're all ok

March 15, 2010 at 3:56 AM  
Anonymous Sally said...

I'm sure that was a moment that was not ideal for a parent, especially a dad, to experience - little girls are invincible when they're in their Daddy's arms, right? But the look on her face said otherwise and you caught it. Storm damage. Glad you all made it home in that mess.

March 15, 2010 at 5:45 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Ponita: I can't get it out of my head but 3-Year Old was fine within minutes. The entire incident seems forgotten already!

Nurse: Storms are bigger than you are. I keep forgetting.

Sally: In retrospect, Daddy is a bit of a dope. I never should have gone out in a storm that big. I should have put a DVD on and called it a day, but I thought that would be the easy, lazy way to fill their hours.

March 15, 2010 at 7:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was out running errands, oblivious, the day the remnants of hurricane ike blasted us with 75mph winds... almost got blown across the parking lot of a hardware store - and we didn't have the rain. scary stuff. stop beating yourself up and know that your girls will be telling the tale for years!

March 15, 2010 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger savannah said...

what daisy said, sugar! we've been there and done that with kids, remember? the girls will dine out on that story later, of course, y'all will come out like a dork, but the story will be good! just remember to laugh, honey! (talk to the MITM if y'all doubt me, having children keeps a man humble in his old age.) xoxox

(the news film has been HORRIBLE!)

March 15, 2010 at 9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering about you this morning when they were describing the storm on the news. Y'all have certainly had your share of horrible weather the past few months. Here's hoping you get about six months of spring in return.

March 15, 2010 at 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So glad you are all safe and yes the girls will recover much sooner than you. Don't beat yourself up let it go.....

March 15, 2010 at 4:02 PM  
Blogger mapstew said...

Frightening shit! And always worse when we have our little ones to protect. But ye made it home safe and that's what counts!

March 15, 2010 at 7:46 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Daisy: I've seen plenty of film clips of 75 mph wind storms. They don't capture the helplessness you feel trying to navigate through one.

Savannah: Thanks for your kind words. What feels worse than placing your own children in harm's way? Not much else.

HIF: The blizzards have been fun but this past weekend was too frightening to have any entertainment value.

MT: As you are well aware, beating myself up is one of the things I'm really, really good at. You don't expect me to give it up, do you?

Map: Exactly right. If the girls haven't been with me, I probably would have chased after the umbrella. I still have no idea where it landed.

March 15, 2010 at 9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A word of advice ('cuz that's what I do) for next time:

Wait it out.

I would have stayed in the mall until the gusts died down and the other folks had worked themselves out and if they'd tried to kick me out, I'd have told them to stuff it.

There's nothing like the raw power of mother nature to show us piddly humans our place in the order of things.

March 15, 2010 at 10:13 PM  
Blogger Happy Hour...Somewhere said...

Scary...but it will make a great family story in the years to come. It will be interesting to see the story your daughter tells of this adventure~!

March 15, 2010 at 11:02 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Rob: Now you tell me! There was no waiting the storm out. It went on well into the night. I had to get going while it was still light out.

Hap: Welcome! I know it's going to be one of those "Guess what Dad did?" stories but that's fine with me. All parties were safely tucked in at the end of the day.

March 16, 2010 at 7:46 AM  

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