Last week, devastation struck my Midwestern town. No, no, I didn’t run out of wine (although it was touch and go for a minute when my Shipt shopper had to substitute my usual Sauvignon Blanc with Chardonnay). I’m talking about REAL devastation. After days of heavy downpours, two dams, literally bursting at the seams, gave out, flooding entire communities, wiping out homes and businesses, and leaving a soggy path of destruction.
While we were in the evacuation zone (and had to quickly pack a bag, rouse our children from their beds, and head for higher ground), our house, which we were able to return to the next day, remained relatively unscathed. And we felt #soblessed. However, many of our friends, family, and neighbors were not so lucky. Driving around our small close-knit community, we saw the devastation caused by the flood waters. Entire lakes completely drained to nothing. Lakefront homes now sitting next to an empty sandbar. Buildings literally pulled from their foundation and washed downstream. Houses filled with water. Sewage backed-up into basements. Homes, business, and lives, completely destroyed.
The past few months have been hard. Really hard. I know I can speak for everyone when I say that living through 2020 has felt a lot like being a test subject in the most unethical social science experiment known to man (just how much pain and suffering can a person endure before actually losing it?). A global pandemic killed tens of thousands and forced us into lockdown, isolated from family, friends, and coworkers. People lost jobs and businesses shuttered. The economy entered a global recession. A freakish May storm dumped record amounts of snow in some parts of the U.S. An outbreak of locust threatened the food security in East Africa. And now flooding. This shit is getting biblical.
In the face of all this, sometimes it can be hard to find the good. Last week I wrote about the simple joys we can still find in our everyday lives (you know, like tacos, and leggings with elastic waist bands because of all the tacos), so it almost seemed redundant (and maybe a little bit too Pollyanna-ish) to focus again on the positives—besides, it’s so out of character for me. But, when you’re swirling in the toilet bowl of life, there’s really nothing else to do but look up. So eff you, 2020. Here are a few good things I’ve realized over this past week:
Things can always be worse
Sure, this may be a really negative way to look at things (now that sounds more like me); but the truth is, no matter how bad it is right now, it can ALWAYS get worse. Do you remember when we thought the wildfires in Australia were going to be the defining terrible moment of 2020? I’ll bet you forgot all about that now that you’re stockpiling Charmin and bathing in sanitizer. And I bet the people who lost their homes to flood waters aren’t whining because they can’t visit the local pub for happy hour (#StayHomeStaySafe). I wish I were as thin as I was the last time I thought I was fat, and I wish I took the time to appreciate my last trip to the grocery store before the pandemic struck (of course that was in February, and I was too busy grumbling about the ice and snow, dreaming about how much easier it would be to get out in May when I didn’t have to wear my snow hat and mittens…). So I’m trying really hard to enjoy what I can in this moment right now—before the next plague strikes.
Quarantining doesn’t suck (well, it does, but it’s not as bad as I used to think)
As we gathered the kids, the dog, and the few belongings we threw into a duffel when we evacuated our home in the dead of night (side note, why does this stuff always happen after midnight?), I longed for the “good old days” of quarantine. I can assure you, sitting at home on my comfy couch, streaming Netflix, and missing my friends doesn’t sound like such a sacrifice when you’re facing the potential destruction of your home.
Masks aren’t so bad
Sure they can be annoying (I mean, how do you wear a mask and NOT fog up your glasses? Seriously, I haven’t seen glass this fogged since prom night). We all know that wearing a mask can help slow the spread of COVID-19. And in the midst of our latest local crisis, I’ve also discovered a mask can protect against inhaling the mold that is currently proliferating across town, and, as a bonus, it helps keep the flood water sewage stench at bay. Besides, a good mask can really hide the laugh lines and double chin I’ve noticed creeping in since I hit 35—and that’s something we can all appreciate.
Butterflies are overrated
We’ve all been in quarantine for weeks (months? years? I’ve lost track…) and none of us have seen the inside of a salon in ages. We miss our hairstylists, our nail technicians, and our estheticians almost as much as we miss our drinking buddies. In fact, I planned my first post-quarantine outing to include some much-needed personal grooming (I may have let a few things slide while on lockdown…). I was going to emerge from quarantine like a butterfly from its cocoon (you know, ten pounds thinner, hair shiny and healthy, skin clear and smooth, makeup flawless…after a trip to the salon, of course). Instead I came out looking like a housefly caught in a bug zapper—split ends, overgrown eyebrows, and grungy clothes (what exactly should one wear to tear out sewage-soaked drywall in the sweltering heat, anyway?). This was the first time I saw people outside my own family in months. But the thing is, I didn’t even care. Because even though the circumstances were terrible and the mood was somber, it was so good to see people again. I don’t think anyone even noticed my bare nails and raggedy cuticles.
People are generally good…
Throughout this whole clusterf*ck of a year, I have seen time and time again, the good in people. And never has it been more pronounced than in the wake of this most recent disaster. People are donating food, clothing, and household goods to those who lost everything. Friends and neighbors are stepping up to demo and clean flood-ravaged homes—is there a truer friend than one who will help you haul poop-water-soaked carpet and drywall out of your basement???
….and we can all make a difference
I can officially say that this past week has been one of the longest years of my life. But it’s shown me the impact that just one individual can make (#MidlandStrong). And although so many people have stepped up to help out, there is still much work to be done before our community can recover. If you want to take part in making that difference—whether through a donation of supplies, money, or time—please check out Midland County Disaster Resources. And take a minute to drop a note in the comments about how you’re flipping 2020 the bird and making a positive impact this year.