being thankful

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, people threw around phrases like “worse disaster in a century” and “act of God,” without exaggeration. After Hurricane Wilma, the residents of Florida tempered their remarks appropriately, saying, “well, we just got slammed.”
Just Got Slammed means “thank goodness that this storm didn’t kill many people,” but it also means that the lush, overgrown tropical paradise that I had grown accustomed to as home has been altered. Just Got Slammed means that there are hundreds of piles of debris scattered along the road, twisted heaps of snapped branches and chain-sawed treetrunks toasted brown by the sun. Just Got Slammed is the gasps we make as we drive around town, seeing block after block of once-mighty banyan trees, leveled like dominoes by the relentless winds, their thick root systems taking chunks of sidewalk or cement walls with them. Teams of pruners have already come along to make the first pass on those still living, their offending broken branches sawed away, leaving the survivng trees shadeless, leafless and abbreviated, and seemingly bleached pale by the blast of wind and rain.
Just Got Slammed is the requisite image of a McDonald’s sign, still standing, but stripped of everything except its iron outline. It’s the random roof tile that landed on the lawn, the spot of blue tarp on one roof among one hundred neighbors.
Its means the PC in the den is fried, or the shaving cream in my shower has mysteriously exploded. It’s the shortages of cream cheese at the grocery store for my mother to complain about or apologize because her seemingly well-stocked pantry is missing the few items she had to throw away when the fridge spoiled. Just Got Slammed is not the end, but it is not home, either.

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