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Sometimes, it really is all in the breath.

Yesterday we had many torrential downpours. It rained for most of the morning, stopped and got incredibly humid (long enough for me to make it to my interview, relax in post-offer-acceptance bliss on the grass, and get home before the mason came), and then poured again. It rained the previous day, too.

I had some laundry to do before my housemate left on a long trip. In the afternoon, there was nothing unusual to note about the basement, or the washing machine, or the laundry. It was the same as each previous day, and a totally new and exciting experience.

After three hours of heavy, heavy rain, I needed to continue the last load of laundry but putting it in the dryer. I went down to check it, and something was amiss. It was wet. On the floor. Very, very wet.

I called for M to come downstairs. It was clear that something had leaked in a very major way. Upon inspection, I discovered that the leak covered all of my furniture in one corner of the basement, and many of my boxes of belongings. It also went under M’s steamer trunk, which she has had since childhood.

Needless to day, I panicked. I completely lost it. I was in tears, hauling boxes around, moving faster than sound to get things up and out of the water. All of my furniture, the only things I really own, my good wood bookcases and my futon (which usually doubles as my bed).

I was scared. I couldn’t identify the source of the water, and that made me more nervous, as it was still raining. All I could think about was the potential for mold, and water-damaged bookcases, and how they would look bad and rippled and I wouldn’t be happy and …

I’d like to say that I stopped there and took a deep breath. But I didn’t. I became singularly focused on getting bricks and boards downstairs, propping the furniture on them, wiping them off, and setting them to dry. We took things out of wet, damaged boxes and put them in new ones. The hamper full of towels got washed (they absorbed much of the water, both a blessing and a curse, since we might have noticed it sooner without them). The laundry was finished, fans and dehumidifiers turned on, and I came upstairs exhausted and overwhelmed.

And then I breathed.

This morning I woke up with a small sense of dread. What if everything is ruined? What if it is leaking again? What if it didn’t really happen and it was all a bad dream?

It did happen. I can’t escape that. It might leak again. I can’t know that until it is inspected. Some things might be water damaged. I can’t change that.

There is a sense of vastness, of behemoth-ness in having your basement flood. You question everything you could have lost. You wonder if it’s all that important, because it seems amplified in the face of danger.

And then I let go.

Sure, the bookcases might be damaged. But I sold most of my books anyway. I didn’t lose a lifetime of photographs. I didn’t lose the books I kept. I didn’t lose the quilt my grandmother made for my wedding bed (which hasn’t been used yet, for obvious reasons).

I didn’t lose myself. I didn’t lose my home, or any major possessions.

I just saw some images on a friend’s Facebook page. Yesterday, she dealt with her street flooding, water knee-high and rising, cars stuck and likely damaged. Yesterday she wasn’t worried about her bookcases or her kitchen dishes, she was trying to help her neighbors save their vehicles, and likely their own basement homes.

It brings to a place of great awareness. I thought that my situation was massive. I thought I was devastated by the damage of a few bookcases.

I lost perspective. I lost my connection to the outside. I lost my greater sense. I was looking through a pin-hole lens. And that was really, really hard.

I’ve been looking at my whole life through a pin-hole.

Tomorrow, I have to deal with my past, with the most painful even of my childhood. Tomorrow, I have to be strong, brave, honest, and real. Tomorrow, I have to face a flood: of words, of emotions, of thoughts, of feelings, of anger, of sadness. Tomorrow, I have to be a grown-up taking care of the 13-year-old girl who lost everything one day. Tomorrow, I have to take care of the 14-year-old girl who kept a secret for fear of her life.


Today I breathe.

Tomorrow will be here soon enough.