So last Monday it started raining, and I mean really raining, which was a little bit of a shock after the last two weeks of weather so hot you didn’t want to leave your house and you couldn’t sleep at night. (The heat was biblical, a record number we hadn’t seen in 114 years, and six schools actually let the kids go home early because nobody felt like it was fair for six-year-olds to have to swelter without air conditioning in their classrooms, not when they could be home sucking popsicles beneath the hypnotic hum of a ceiling fan.)
Then on Monday, out of nowhere, the sky just opened up and it poured. I looked out my window after just a few minutes and my adrenaline started pumping hard, because the streets were turning into rivers, and I thought about flash floods and emergency sirens. I meant to go turn on the radio to listen to the news, but instead I got distracted double-checking that the windows were closed. I kept hearing a plunking sound and thinking it was coming in from a window somewhere, so I kept pacing the house like a restless animal until I realized with a start that our roof was leaking, right in the corner by the fireplace, and there was water all over the floor.
I found our biggest pot and stuck it under the drip. And then I went downstairs and water was pouring from the window wells, running like waterfalls down the walls, spreading out over the carpet so my shoes made squishing sounds when I ran over to look at the sump pump. Which was all I did—I don’t have a mechanical mind to comprehend what might be wrong, much less how I could fix it, and besides there were spider webs strung over the whole thing, and I sure wasn’t going to be sticking my hand into that.
So I looked for more buckets, and stuck them under the waterfalls, which didn’t work very well because the buckets were round and the water was coming in up against the wall. I looked again, in ignorance, at the sump pump. And then I just stood there watching the water come in.
Whenever you start to think that really maybe you’re in control of your life, that you can manage your own circumstances, Nature has no problem giving you a swift kick in the head and informing you that clearly, you’re an idiot. Sometimes it decides to just pick up your whole house in a flash flood and sweep the things you’ve spent a lifetime collecting into the river. Sometimes it decides your immune system should randomly declare war on your own body, shutting down your whole digestive system and sending you to the hospital seven times in the process. Sometimes it refuses to let you reproduce, or burns your childhood home to the ground, or just wipes you out with an aneurism no one could have seen coming.