So it seems. With the profound understanding that the storm that rages inside is far more dangerous than the storm outside could ever be and if she is to survive she needs to climb back up to where she began her journey to survive.
It began with a Hurricane heading towards Ft. Lauderdale. Locked inside PH11 for months shattered by betrayal I listen to the mandatory emergency evacuation instructions blaring over the intercom in my condo high above the beach ” A warning has been issued for the barrier Islands, mandatory evacuation … at noon all elevators will be non operative”
I go out onto my terrace and it’s one of those beautiful Florida mornings, sunshine, clear blue skies white puffy clouds, white caps dancing seemingly dancing on the aqua ocean. Paradise. I am not leaving I say to the recorded voice of the intercom.
As if it heard me it says “those who refuse to evacuate must contact the front desk and leave a next of kin notification”
I laugh and continue watching the evacuation of the beach area,tourist carrying the pillows and blankets (handed out to them by hotels) I wonder where are they going?
The intercom that is reading my thoughts replies again “Buses to the shelters depart Oakland Park BLVD and A1A on the hour, last bus at noon” I watch TV news camera set up and anchors being filmed under the clear blue sky. I think of the live pictures I’ve seen of anchors being blown away in a storm and here the palm trees are doing their usual swaying in the breeze dance. The voice says “In 1 hour the elevators will be off till further notice” No big deal I think. Not sure at what point no big deal turned into BIG Deal.
I go out to my terrace to see what’s going on and as I have seen as a resident of Florida for 20 years “if you don’t like the weather wait 5 mins” In the distance were massive black clouds seemingly swirling in circles picking up the ocean in its path and it was heading towards me. I panic I need to leave but I need to take “stuff” with me. So I spend 20 mins. packing stuff… yep I needed to take my name necklace, charm bracelet, grandmothers charm, emerald ring, my stuffed toy Gizmo, favorite pillow, carton of Cigarettes and a photo album –survival gear.
Off I go –elevator off, I descend 18 flights of stairs swearing I need to quit smoking.
On the ground I sit on the bench outside my lobby and I light a cigarette and it dawns on me, where the hell am I going??
The last bus for shelter left a half hour ago. The bridge is closed to traffic coming into the beach so no one can come get me. I walk over to Shooters, closed and boarded up, as a matter of fact everything is boarded up and there isn’t a soul around. I walk out to Ocean Blvd.camera crews and the wind is blowing them and me off my feet. I go back to my bench and cry and suddenly I realize if I just sit there and do nothing I won’t survive. I have to climb back.
I walk back into the lobby and see the neatly printed next of kin notification book, I write Notify Barbara Bassett and I begin the climb back up to survive the storm. When I opened the door I felt HOME –ya know that feeling, but for me I hadn’t felt at home in my home since… well for a long long while.
I went to the “this glass door will withstand 100 mile an hour winds” and looked out and saw the ocean and the sky blend into blackness. I was more amazed at this sight than frightened, as a matter of fact I was strangely calm inside. Over the next few hours I watched and heard mother nature’s assault. Yes, it does seemingly rain upside down at this height. Howling, Banging, Clanging. In darkness the only light is the frequent bolts of lightning that literally light up the room and I am on my knees praying “Dear God, please I promise this, I promise that”.
Not sure when the prayers to God turned from I Promise to stop cursing, smoking etc. to I promise to LIVE my life as God intended, in Peace, with JOY and in Faith that I am the one I have been waiting for to rescue me all these months of shattered ME– Broken woman on her knees believing she is of no value, worthless to even herself, living as if she was invisible for invisible women don’t need to eat, shower, dress.
I went to the mirror and looked at the image that starred back and I heard myself say ” you did this to you, no one did this to you, you did this to you because you stopped believing you were of value”
I went out onto the terrace and fought the rain to stand up I held the railing and I fought the wind. I yelled to every clash of thunder “I am of value” hardly my most poetic but in the darkness of alone it was my most profound.
The next day the sunrise was as if it was Gods thumb print rising out of the aqua ocean. I whispered my name and I showered, did my hair and makeup, dressed and put on my stilettos and I walked across the street to Shooters I say to this day it was the longest walk of my life, I walked in sat at the bar ordered a vodka club and went out to the back bar to have a cigarette I heard a bunch of people laughing and I walked over and said “HI I am Barbara” and at that very moment I felt the storm inside me magically replaced with the peace that I had survived and I would continue to survive as long as I continued to believe in me because I am of Value.
Which brings me to the storm that rages once again inside. I am 1,300 miles away from Barbara. I close my eyes and I can see her sitting on her bench in the sun, I can actually feel the warmth, taste the salt air. I hear her crying and my heart aches, “What did I do to you?” She never answers, she just smiles and walks away and I am always left to wonder… Why?
BUT today I watch her walk away as always this time she turns and hands me a book that once in my hands feels familiar and I look down at what its written –Notify Barbara Bassett My answer “I did this to me”.
And so once again it’s not poetic but it is profound for the memory of shattered included my name necklace, emerald ring, grandmothers Charm, charm bracelet, all of which have found a home in a pawn shop, favorite pillow and photo album have found a home in a storage unit, now home in a compassionate friends garage.
So as this very long storm rages inside, I have the profound awareness that if I continue to sit here I will not survive. I need to climb back up. For I do remember the woman who once believed she was the one she was waiting for and the Peace she found, like magic. When she whispered her name to the sunrise and claimed her value from high above the world.
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