I'm not regretful of making the appearance Saturday night at my Aunt Alethea's surprise 50th birthday party. Aunt Alethea cried when she saw over two hundred people who loved her. I had a lot of laughs making goofy comments with my cousins, saw several old faces, and even dozens more who were familiar but I'd long since forgotten since I moved out of Hattiesburg eight years ago. Afterwards I checked on my step-mother, Rita, who had broken her ankle that morning, and met up with my sister, klcblonde at the bowling alley where she tends bar. I had several more drinks, met some of her friends/roommates, rode with Kelli to her new pad, waited off my buzz, then drove to my mom's and crashed about 6:30AM.
I realize now that I just shouldn't have had any drinks, turned straight around after the party, Rita, and Kelli, and driven back to Oxford at 4AM Sunday morning.
When I decided on Friday night to make the morning trip, Kristina was just a Cat2 hurricane. The next morning, she was a three with the expectation that she'd be a four or five by landfall on Monday. Still no Mississippi evacuations, and I wasn't going to be gone long. Even as I made my plans, I knew they'd go bust. I hoped to stop briefly in Jackson to visit birdofparadox and Glover (which I sadly did not have time for), swing into Hattiesburg, spend 36 hours with family, and make it back up to Jackson Sunday afternoon to meet up with the post fantasty football draft folk. Riiiight.
I remember telling myself how stupid it was as I made the drive down. The NPR announcer gave repeated announcements of the hurricane progress and contra-traffic conditions thirty miles south of Hattiesburg. "Whatever you do, don't go south" he kept saying as I was driving, well, south. I got that cheesy horror/natural disaster film feeling that I was about to commit the fatal error despite the Cassandra-esque plot hero's warnings.
This morning as I buried my head and my hangover under my pillow, I kick myself for not listening to...myself. Then I got an eerie feeling (one that comes from half-witted, 2-hours of sleep, half-drunk rationalization), that maybe I'm supposed to be here. Maybe someone someone here will need me. Despite its stupidity, the delusion served to quell the stranded feeling that almost pushed me to spend eight hours on Mississippi back road to get to Oxford and the photo project I left behind. So I settled down for the long wait and made arrangements for navydave to break into my house and rescue Izzy should there be spin-off tornados near Oxford.
If I wasn't such a ninny (and if I knew exactly which house was his), I'd be knocking on prodigalson's door and setting up a hurricane party for tomorrow. But it's too late so I'm going to make the most of it and spend some quality time with my mother and grandmother who is staying with us during the storm (and to help with her broken wrist).
Kristina should be hitting within the next few hours. We had pristine weather most of the day. 'Round about 6PM the went from light to charcoal in under five minutes. The wind was never steady, instead bursting into gusts then returning again to utter stillness. Dead quiet nothing then fury then nothing again. Now it's just the trickle of water and the thrumming energy of the air.
I spent the afternoon entertaining my Grandmother and helping Mama move her porch furniture, potted plants, cherubs and wind chimes inside the house and tucking what was left against the fences and gates. We filled up the bathtubs and I cursed myself for not having more than a half a coke in the house to tide me over.
Thus, I'm stuck in Hattiesburg, probably til Wednesday, with one pair of blue jeans, a toothbrush, and a novel that's running short on pages.