This time I am talking about a real flood here. Not a metaphorical one. My state, Rhode Island, was declared a state of emergency two weeks ago by President Obama due to the heavy rains that caused the Pawtuxet River (fun to say, but not fun to live near now) to overflow swamping houses and business. People have sadly lost their homes and some businesses are still closed indefinitely. The Warwick Mall was flooded — like three feet of water in front of Target flooded. This is very distressing for a state that is already economically depressed. Our unemployment rate is already one of the highest in the country.
For those who don’t live near the river, storm drains also overflowed. The water table got over saturated and on the island where I live, most of the people I’ve talked to have had water in their basements. Friends with finished basements have had to tear up carpet and throw out furniture. It’s all a big time bummer.
We had 18 inches in our cellar and a lot of keepsakes got wet. It was a big swampy project to clean up — more like excavate — and while we sadly threw away a mountain of books, baseball cards, and items we once thought worthy of saving, in an instant, much of it was converted into garbage.
Seeing so much from the past, not just my past, but my family’s (for I was storing of a lot their things for them) brought a lot of memories to the surface in a giant wet mess. Fortunately, with perseverance, we were able to save the most crucial items — old letters my father wrote home during his military service, photographs of my grandparents, my old journals (which we put down there in error) and letters, my father’s book research (we were able to save the most important pieces and cull the rest).
Weeding through all of this — it was like the last 100 years of my family imploded down in that basement — it was impossible not to reflect on the passage of time. My father died almost 16 years ago and my grandmother has been gone since 1980. They both have very interesting stories and I have always intended to tell them through some creative medium or another. All this time has passed and I still haven’t done it.
The flood was a huge wake up call for me and while I boohooed quite a bit — especially when I had to chuck my little brother’s baseball card collection that he had trusted me to preserve — I now know, more than ever, that it is time to get busy with all of the projects that I want to do, but thus far haven’t. I am writing a book and it’s been a little slow going, but I don’t want another 16 years to pass without me accomplishing these goals.
Since the flood my mantra is (with forte): “Don’t wait!! Just write the damn book!