Houses can be bought and sold, built from scratch or remodelled, or even knocked down in a hurricane. But your home, your home is wherever you are, wherever the people that you love are at that moment.
It's been a week since Hurricane Sandy hit the NY/NJ area and I feel like it's only now that we are starting to realize how lucky we have been.
The lights went out this past Monday night and stayed out until Saturday night.
The trees on our block are all still standing, our windows are all intact, our basement did not flood and our car still has some gas in it.
We are super-lucky.
But we were also prepared.
A couple of days before the hurricane, newscasters were already imploring residents to pack a go-bag, stock up on water, flashlights, batteries, medicines and, most of all, to make a plan. And because I am married to Mr. Safety, we did.
And I'm so sad for the people who didn't.
Even if this hurricane has turned out to be nothing, even if we were stocked with tons
of batteries and flashlights, so what? The worst that would have happened is that we would have been extra ready extra early next time.
Batteries don't go to waste. Canned tuna fish lasts a really long time. Bottled water lasts even longer. And besides, you'll eat the tuna and drink the water at some point. Just make pretend that there was a really good sale on those items (even if there wasn't) and buy what you need.
I'm not advocating becoming a survivalist - although, I do have to say, there is nothing quite like sitting in the pitch black with your family sleeping around you, just waiting for looters to show up and knowing that there is really nothing in the world you can do about it. Again, we got lucky, nothing like that happened around here, but it definitely did in other towns around here.
Being a parent is a huge responsibility, and part of that responsibility is to make sure your kids feel safe, even if in reality, they are not 100% safe at that moment. They don'y need to know that.
So instead of panicking*, we made a game out of the hurricane.
Josh handed each kid their own flashlight.
He brought all their mattresses down to the dining room - the room with the fewest windows - and pretended we were going camping. They all got into their cozy pajamas and we kept the tv on as long as the power stayed on. But once it went out, at about 7pm, they each got into their makeshift beds, with tons of pillows and blankets and flashlights and books to read or look at.
Meanwhile, I stayed upstairs, packing a big bag, should we need to leave.
At that point, we had no idea if the basement would flood, how much rain there would be or if "all" we would get would be 90 mph winds.
So I packed three days worth of clothes, pajamas, sweatshirts for the kids and for us. Tons of extra socks. Tons of diapers for the little one. I dug out their winter boots from the attic and got together gloves and hats for everyone. Any conceivable medicine any kid might have potentially needed. And more flashlights. I'm not sure how it all fit, but all those items were stuffed into one carry-on bag. Or rather, a carry-on bag from the 1980's. Now, I'm
pretty sure all you can get onto an airplane is a backpack. Either way, it was not a huge bag, but it worked.
I'll say it again, I'm married to Mr. Safety, so perhaps this is all overkill, but I have definitely come around to Josh's way of thinking: better safe than sorry.
Having said that, I also packed another small bag with the following:
1. All our important documents. I never realized before how many we had,
including mortgage papers and passports.
2. Cash. We had gone to the bank before the storm.
3. Extra house and car keys.
4. More diapers and wipes.
5. A cell phone charger.
6. A bunch of plastic shopping bags.
We also put a case of bottled water in the car, as well as four fleece blankets. Okay, I'll admit, those blankets live there all the time, just in case (thanks Alissa - my sister-in-law in safety!) And of course, snacks. Lots of crackers and granola bars and pretzels.
Oh, and Josh backed up the computer and the laptop and took the back-up and the laptop with us.
My point here is this: we were ready. We had a plan. And we could have left at a moment's notice, should the need have come. It didn't. But we were prepared.
And so many people in evacuation zones were not prepared. Or they refused to leave.
I'm not judging at all, everyone makes their own personal calculations of which no one else is ever privy, and my heart is so sad for everyone and anyone affected in any way by the hurricane, but I do have to say that I cannot for one second imagine not leaving my house if my neighborhood had been evacuated. We would have left even if there may have been a thought that our neighborhood maybe perhaps should be evacuated.
A house is just a house. Only people can make it a home. My home is wherever Josh is. Wherever my kids are. Wherever we are, all together, is home.
*I do have to admit that there were moments of panic, for me at least. Josh laughed at me when the power went out and, well, this is how it went:
Me: oh no, how are we going to make hot cocoa in the morning? The hot water urn will be cold!
Josh: You do know we have a tea kettle, right?
Me: Oh. Yeah, okay, I'm okay now.