Sunday, September 22, 2013

Of Floods and Face Lifts

That's hardly as eloquent a title as: "Of Mice and Men, but there's an adage for writers: "Write what you know."  Then again, I'll ignore good writing advice re: the importance of dramatic leads and will instead state upfront that my house sustained very little damage from the flooding in Boulder, and I didn't have a face lift, merely a brow lift and upper eyelid surgery. 

Three weeks ago I wrote about August going out with a whimper.  Well, September sure swept in with a lot of force, here in Boulder!  Despite the Front Range's arid climate, it rained and rained for days on end.  We got more than half of our typical annual precipitation in one ten-day span. I've lived in Boulder for 37 years and have never experienced anything remotely like this.  The rivers swelled and rose.  There were flash floods in streets and neighborhoods that weren't in the flood plain.  It felt as if all of the ground soil in Boulder was dumped hundreds of yards downhill.

Unlike me, my husband does not wear earplugs at night, so he alone heard the call from our next-door neighbors asking if he could help with a sump pump for the water that was gushing in through their window wells.  That was the first of two nights of severely interrupted sleep for him, as the second night he had to keep emptying a three-foot tall trash bucket every ninety minutes to catch most of the water that was running from a small, newly discovered hole in our foundation wall.  We wound up with a soggy carpet even so in our guest room.  Between the contents on our storage room floor, and everything in our guest room, our rec room is crammed to the gills. We dried our carpet, mostly by soaking up the moisture with towels, now we need to shampoo the carpet and put the guest room and storage room back together.

I've often had impeccable timing for avoiding manual labor.  I'm your basic slug of a dinner-party guest who is rapt in conversation until the last plate is cleared, and who only then thinks to ask: "Can I help?"  Or who sleeps soundly until her spouse returns home at 4:30 a.m. from working on the neighbor's basement.

My avoidance-of-labor timing held true last week. I called my friends to ask about their houses, yet wasn't in the position to help carry items out of their flooded basements. Bending over and scrubbing on my hands and knees is very difficult with a bruised and healing face.  My eyes, cheeks, and forehead were sore, and I had a minor but enduring sinus headache.  I Skyped with my son in S. Korea, and he said that I looked like I'd been in a really bad fist fight.  I truly felt guilty for not only coming through the flood without damage to our home, but for (essentially) incapacitating myself over something driven by pure vanity. 

That said, a couple of years ago, I read somewhere that there is also wisdom in reversing the Golden Rule.  Sometimes we should each take a moment to ask ourselves: Would I tell my child the same things that I'm telling myself right now? 

The truth is that my friends know who--and how--I am.  They like me even so! People with better backs and better faces are pitching in to help physically.  Meanwhile, my friends still appreciate--I hope--how I continue to be held rapt by our conservations.  My husband knows that I'm a chronic insomniac, and that it's much better for both of our sakes to let me get whatever sleep I can.  Plus, I love my new eyes!  That makes me happy, and I'm a better person when I'm happy than when I'm sad.

Sadly, for some Coloradoans, it might take many months until their homes are rebuilt.  Much, much worse, some families have lost loved ones. The only help I can offer them is through my prayers. I ask those of you who are so inclined to join me in that venture.

With gratitude and blessings,

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