Saturday, September 9, 2017

Losing Everything

The hurricane has me pondering.  This one, Irma, is just now hitting the tip of Florida.  You can follow it on Twitter if you have a high tolerance for excitement.

Florida is a state that has meaning for Americans.  I think of Hemingway's house and all its six-toed cats.  The one below is named Hairy Truman.  I wonder how they'll do, whether the house will survive.

I've never been to Florida but my hairdresser, goes there for beach vacations and sends photos on Facebook. My husband Tom lived there for three years after college.  My sister's friend from high school lives there and is also on my Facebook feed.  Many retirees go there to live in better weather and never visit South Beach, which I know from a movie, The Birdcage.  I think about The Everglades, wonder what this will do to them. In short, Florida is an idea in my mind, an important part of America in a way that few states are.

Miami Beach was shown on the news tonight, spotless and empty.  I want to modify that to emphasize how strange it is:  quite empty.  Dead empty.  Everyone is on the road or in an emergency center.  It was beautiful and strange.

Many Floridians are crammed into emergency centers tonight wondering if they will lose everything. I keep thinking about the last line of The Five Remembrances, a Buddhist chant.  "Everything and everyone I love will one day be taken from me."  When I say that line I've always pictured myself dying, leaving everyone I love, and the house I think of as mine and all the things in it, things I see as mine.You don't just go into death alone, you go into it empty handed.  But this can happen to you in life.  Some people will lose everything in this weather disaster.  You saw them waiting for rescue after Hurricane Harvey, sitting on a roof alone, with no bag, nothing.  The place where they worked may also have disappeared.  Other people manage to take their dog or cat and we are happy for them.

Back to Twitter.  Shirtlifting tells us that "All 54 (!) cats resident in the Hemingway House in Key West have been accounted for and taken into a safe area to ride this baby out."  This is a hurricane-proofed house of limestone block 16 feet above sea level.   Here's a story about it.

Many people have commented on this. They think the historic house, which is on an elevation, will survive.  I hope it does. I've never visited it and I don't expect to, but I like to know it's there.