TRAVEL LOG, Hurricane Ian, Part 3:

In “The Firm”, John Grisham’s phenomenally successful early ‘90s book about a young lawyer who unwittingly took a job with a law firm owned by the mafia, there was a part near the end where the protagonist, Mitch McDeere, and his wife were hiding from both the FBI and mob hitmen in a small motel along the panhandle of Florida. The book describes pretty vividly how Mitch, an Ivy League graduate attorney, had to try to fit in with the locals on what we affectionally call the “Redneck Rivera”. 

I kinda feel like that right now. 

No, nobody is trying to murder my family or me, and certainly no one is confusing me for Ivy League material, but we are in a small motel in an old part of Florida, and absolutely nobody is taking us for locals. I feel like pretty much everyone here takes one look at us and thinks, yeah, they’re definitely refugees from the hurricane.

I remember writing about how surreal it was to be a refugee during Hurricane Irma in 2017. How I had friends back home fighting for their lives while my brother-in-law was barbecuing chicken for us and I was tossing the football with my nephew in gorgeous Ohio weather. Now, here again, my family is basically vacationing while friends back home are suffering. My wife still hasn’t heard from someone whose last text was “we’re huddling in the attic as our entire first floor is flooded up to near the ceiling“.

Meanwhile, we spent the day on Key Largo walking on a beach and getting the girls homemade ice cream. I definitely have “survivor’s guilt”.

But I’m certainly not apologizing for getting my family the hell out of that shit.

As I’m typing this, Evi and the girls have already settled down for our second night here in Florida City, a rickety little town just above the bridge to the Florida Keys. A few hours ago, I went ahead and paid for two more nights after tonight, just to buy us some time for decision making. Emotionally, we want to get home as soon as possible—but then what? Our neighborhood has no electricity or safe water. As incredibly lucky as we are that our house didn’t get flooded or ripped to shreds, staying there with a two-year-old and a four-year-old is a total non-starter, so we’re just about as homeless as anyone else. 

A good friend of mine, Keith, drove through my neighborhood and past our house today, and basically told me, “stay away as long as possible”. As others have said, our neighborhood looks post-apocalyptic. Like, multiple bombs landed there. A few other friends of mine—who sheltered-in-place for the hurricane—have texted me asking about our motel and location. Apparently it’s so miserable there, people are looking for other places to stay. The rumor is hotels all over southwest Florida and surrounding areas are completely booked. 

So, of course, our latest plan is we’re going back Sunday—but only to pick up some important items and more clothing, and to clean out the refrigerator. Then, well, who the hell knows? My sister has offered to put us up for a while, but wow, that trip to Ohio won’t exactly be fun. At least it’ll be nice to see Lori and her family again. 

Holy crap, I just remembered something: last week Evi said something like, “I really wish we could head up north this Autumn to see the leaves change”. HOLY SHIT EVI MANIFESTED THIS WHOLE HURRICANE SO SHE COULD WEAR WARM CLOTHES AND DRINK REAL PUMPKIN SPICED COFFEE!!

Okay, I’m kidding, I’m kidding.

I think. 

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  • September 30, 2022
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