Hurricane Sandy was barreling towards us. My husband was in full protection mode, gathering food and supplies into the basement. The boys were excited since school was closed. Right now, it was all flashlights and fun, but it was only 9 am on Monday and the real storm was not supposed to hit for hours. Did I mention there wasn’t any school?
My crazy brain was figuring out my schedule for the week that was already off schedule. There were class trips, a party and dentist appointments. Plus, my cousin was in NYC for the week. And oh, yeah, Halloween was Wednesday. Without the storm, it was already one of those jam-packed weeks that I was going to be working hard to get it all in, especially my gym time.
Hmm. There’s an idea. I look outside and it doesn’t seem so bad yet, so I call the gym. They are open and have assured me that there are actual people there. I can’t believe it. Maybe I’m not so crazy.
Afraid of my Safety Patrol husband, I gently broach the idea of me sneaking out for an hour. He looks at me as I knew he would, but actually just rolls his eyes and gives the okay. Wow. I wasn’t expecting it to be that easy. Before he changes his mind, or the storm changes course, I head out.
The roads are pretty deserted. It’s not really raining much and the winds are mild to moderate. The only thing that makes me nervous is the water. The gym is right on the Sound, and it looks dangerously close to running over. I feel a rush of anxiety and keep thinking, “Really? You had to go to the gym this bad?”
Apparently I did, and so did the other 15 or so people there. I recognize a few, and it calms me a little. Okay, I’m not super crazy. But then I see him, and I know I am. You know him, even if you don’t know him. He’s the guy in your town who’s a little tightly wound. He shouts the loudest at the kids’ sports games. He’s a little too intense and calls attention to himself in just that extra way that makes you go, “Hmmm,” and take two steps back.
Great. Now we’re bonded as one of the elite crazy people who decide to go to the gym during a hurricane. 40 minutes I tell myself, then I’m out. The storm isn’t really supposed to hit till later, and the radio had just said that high tide ended and the water was receding a bit. Calm. Calm.
I get on the elliptical, listening to the news, moving my feet faster in some warped way thinking I’ll finish faster. The front doors of the gym have the garage guard down, so that the glass doors are protected. It isn’t a big deal, except without the outside lights, the gym feels like a tomb. The whole time, I’m imagining scenarios of death.
About 25 minutes in, the lights go out. Most people calmly get off their machines, but there’s a frightening few that continue to pedal like mechanical Stepford wives. I head straight for the door, afraid that some kind of apocalypse awaits outside.
It’s pretty much the same as before, with moderate wind and some rain. I jump into my car and spy intense man doing the same. We head in the same direction, since there is only one road along the water and we live blocks apart about 5 minutes away. We are almost at our turn, when I see him quickly U-turn and head back toward the gym. Huh?
Oh. There is a cop standing in the road, blocking the way. I lower the window, but before I can ask anything, the officer barks, “Turn around!”
“But I live there. How am I supposed to get that…?”
“Turn around!” he barks in answer. It makes the last thin nerve I’m working with snap and tears pool in my eyes.
“You could be a little nicer, Officer!” I squeak at him and make a U-turn.
Going back the other way, I keep one eye on the road and the other on the water, trying to keep it together. I’m never going to see my children again, because I needed to go to the gym. Okay, I tell myself. I can just take Radcliffe. It’ll be okay. With a plan, I calm, for about 30 seconds. That’s when I saw the other road block straight ahead. Sirens start to wail, and not just in my head.
As far as I knew, there was water to my left and a bunch of dead ends on my right. I was trapped. Intense man was in the same position, and I watched him make a quick right on a road that said No Thru. Panicked, with nowhere else to go, I followed. I had never been on the road before, but it whipped somehow around the water and connected to another road that brought us back on higher ground, close to home.
I breathed a deep heave of relief. Safe. I’ll never leave home again! Thank you, intense man. The water was now behind me and my house in front of me. Oh, and Dunkin Donuts right here in the middle. And, it’s…open. I really should get home. I never should have left. A hurricane was coming. But…it would only be a minute, and really, who knew when I’d get a nice, hot coffee again.