The era of the hurricane came with long days and longer nights.
The air was sticky in the morning and my hair frizzed into a puffball that stuck out in every which-way
And the beads of sweat suctioned themselves onto my skin,
Like the way the starfish at the aquarium stuck to the glass even when you poked them.
I was tan then, and the moisture made me glisten and glow
But not like a supermodel on the beach, oiled up in the sand,
It was more like a greasy pig, running through a wheat field.
With pork-soaked insecurities I would worry about muffin-tops and if the in-betweens of my legs touched when I stood still
But Mom would say I was too young to worry about things like that
So she fed me food from the fridge that she didn’t want to go bad
Like watermelon and old Chinese food
And we would sit in our green, plastic lawn chairs,
Dilapidated from their time tucked away in the garage
Between the old rusted bicycles and the blow-up snowman with laser eyes.
The inside was an oven, set to 450 degrees to roast us all up, so we’d sit outside and watch the clouds congregate on the horizon.
Mom was always worried about trees coming through windows,
So she’d shout directions at Dad, who’s hands were rough and calloused from tracing the chaotic splinters of two by fours.
I had my own pink hammer and my mind thought tough was relative,
But I always missed the nail, so the boys would shove me aside while the men of the house did the heavy-duty stuff,
And I would be put to work filling the little plastic water bottles half with water, half with vodka.
Once the sky opened up I’d set up my tape recorder and capture the sweet cacophony of the storm.
And I’d pray the lights would stay on because reading is easier that way
But the storm always knocked out the power – it never stood a chance.
So when the rain passed we would all gather outside in the driveway
Where the kids would draw pictures with colored chalk of monkeys hanging from trees but they could never quite get the nooses right.
And we would play cards or Mexican Train Dominoes but there was a missing piece or Joker or King so the men would talk about how bad the football team was doing,
And I would try my hand at sports conversation but at thirteen all you care about is how cute the boys look in their uniforms, and the older folk don’t care much for that.
Those humid, post-hurricane days were too hot for clothes,
So bras and underwear became the latest fashion trend.
The boys never minded so neither did we,
Except for old Mrs. Higgins who went around thumpin’ people with the Bible
So she avoided us and called us scoundrels from her living room window.
Once the clock ticked on and the sun became unwanted we’d sing songs about beer to welcome the man in the moon to our party of hurricane hoodlums,
He always looked more like a rabbit to me,
I told dad I wanted to feed him carrots but that would be wasteful so I never got to climb up to meet the mysterious rabbit man, and adventure through craters
And return a more solidified version of myself
So instead I would sit cross-legged and draw airplanes on my boney kneecaps with Sharpie.
It never stayed on well because the heat made my skin too slippery,
And the smell of permanent marker made Mom’s head ache but so did air freshener so I wrote stories in my journal about a non-scented girl and her non-scented family.
And eventually the darkness tried to breathe some coolness into the stench of sweat
But to no avail, so we would go inside and sleep by the only open window
We always left one uncovered in case we needed to escape a fire or a flood or Grandpa’s drinking.
And I would brush my teeth by moonlight while humming Bon Jovi songs
And sometimes I would make a mess on the counter with the toothpaste
But I couldn’t see a thing because the moonlight wasn’t all that bright.
The Johnson’s down the street had candles,
But candles made grotesque shadows dance on the kitchen floor and scared the dog.
No one liked it when he barked so we all agreed on no candles, but sometimes I would whisper ghost stories down the hall to try to get a rouse out of him.
Sometimes, a bolt of lightening cracked into fire outside in the yard, and it would scare the shit out of me and make me jump in my chair,
So I’d listen to “A Symphony of a Storm” on repeat over and over and over again Thank God Walkmans use batteries,
Because once the storm passed the nights were quiet and that was the worst part,
Who cares about missing school when it means you have to sleep with no fan on and roll around miserable from the dead stillness of everything.
So I would lay there, tangled up in sheets, kicked to the end of the bed and twisted around my feet like coils that fed electricity to everything but a house after a hurricane
And hours would pass with my eyes wide shut and my mind painting pictures of flutes and brass instruments playing sonnets to the man in the moon
Who wore a spectacle and a suit and tie and ate carrots at the opera,
And maybe I fell asleep but sometimes imagination is better than dreams, and sometimes I’d forget to take my sleeping pills,
So I’d wake up at three a.m. and pass the early hours in conversation with the stuffed dolls and teddy bears in the corner.
Luna was my favorite, but sometimes she could be a bitch.
And somewhere between imaginary friends and growing up I’d wake up from a sleep that I never remembered entering
And the mornings were the best part,
When I’d open my eyes and not be able to see or remember where I was or who I was
But I could still hear the sound of a leftover storm through my headphones and somehow there was comfort in that terrifying melody.