HAPPY NEW YEAR from Galveston – Anybody got a hat?

I haven’t told this story before.

On Wednesday, September 10, 2008, I decided to cash in my birthday massage coupon – it being six months old already and all – and since we thought the third storm in a month was headed south of Galveston, I thought what the heck? And if it decided to come closer to us, we still had ‘til Friday to get out. We’re well rehearsed at this stuff, and I deserved an afternoon off.

About twenty minutes into some pretty intense deep tissue acupressure on my neck – a luxury strangely akin to putting your head in a meat press, I’m guessing – the room started spinning. I mean SPINNING like I was a pencil let loose beneath a twisted rubber band. I stopped my guy and truly thought I was having a stroke. He kept working on me gently for another half hour or so, but the room kept going and before long, it was clear I was sicker than I had ever been in my life, and in no condition to transport myself to the bathroom, let alone home.

Long story short – I got a ride back to the loft around 3:00 that afternoon, went to bed, and found one position I could lie in to stop the spinning. If I ventured off that spot even a couple of inches, everything started spinning again. (If you’ve had vertigo, you’re probably screaming at your screen right now. I’d never had it before, nor have I had it since. I can only assume the massage released a pocket of toxins in my neck that made a whirligig of me.) Anyhow, about 9:30 that night, I awoke to find my friends Carol and Joe in my living room, taking care of my pets, pulling in my balcony furniture, and pumping me full of Dramamine and Sprite. “If you’re not better by 8:30 in the morning,” they said as they left to go back to Houston, “we’ll be back to get you.” Hurricane Ike had put a bead on Galveston, and the island was evacuating. The Fates were center stage, in full regalia and taking charge. If I had ever had any control of my life, it was clear to me at that moment that I certainly did not anymore.

At 6:30 the next morning (September 11th – if that date means anything to you), I got a text from my weather friend that said simply, “Get out.” I felt like I had the worst-ever hangover, but I could walk, so I packed up my pets’ belongings and an overnight bag and left town. Like everyone else, I had every expectation that I would be home again by the weekend. I was gone from my home with one small suitcase and a lifetime supply of doggie treats… for 67 days.

And that’s how every aspect of my life changed irrevocably with no planning nor desire nor permission on my part. I now belong to a really big club where nobody wants to be a member. But that’s precisely the point. Everything has changed, and it’s not going to change back, so it is normal now. The New Normal.

In The New Normal, you will notice people making more conservative choices for their money and more courageous choices for their lives. You will see big decisions being made easily and small decisions being agonized over. You will note a distinct disregard for “The Joneses” and a willingness to share any and everything without judgment. (Frame of reference: Most of us in real estate haven’t made any money at all since August – a test, at worst, and depletion, at best, of that “six months of savings” we have all intended to stockpile.) But as Robert Fulghum said, “If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience.”

It’s been 100 days already. One Hundred Days of Inconvenient Ike. With all the elements of Greek Drama – including a very vocal Chorus telling us how to think and feel — are we living a Tragedy or a Comedy?

My New Year’s Resolution for 2009 is to never use Hurricane Ike as an excuse or a reason for anything ever again. With this message, I personally want to issue a call to us all to bring friends and family and business back to the island today, not tomorrow. If you’re here, get busy! If you’re elsewhere, please come see us and refer us your business. Pass this message on to everyone you know and ask them to do the same. Like a kid who’s just suffered a humiliating haircut, tell us how good we’re looking, then buy us a hat. Together, we can do it. Together, we will do it!

I wish you health, harmony, and prosperity in the New Year, my friends. Thank you for all you do.



Copyright © 2009 Alice Melott


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  1. #1 by Peggie Kohnert on December 28, 2008 - 9:03 pm

    What a reminder of 100 days since the storm. I live in West U and things are quite back to normal. Except once in a while, you’re driving along and miss that big, majestic live oak tree that used to be there. And the neon signs on Kirby are still broken out. Only 100 days……

  2. #2 by Billy & Ruthi on December 29, 2008 - 1:13 pm

    Awesome story, as usual you have put into writing what we are all feeling. Love you Alice….Mahalo, Billy & Ruthi

  3. #3 by Tammie Taylor on January 1, 2009 - 11:06 am

    Thanks for sharing your story Alice, and for the encouragement to stop using the hurricane as an excuse for inaction. A friend forwarded a message from a weekend homeowner in Galveston, who lamented the lack of media attention we were receiving, particularly compared to Katrina victims, and also went on and on about all the negative aspects of the island in its current state. I replied that we had no interest in and were far too resourceful to be compared with Katrina victims. And I added a long list of island positives, ranging from neighbors who now know and care for each other to the property tax office offering citizens an installment plan in 2009, ending with the question — so what have YOU done to make things better on the island? Whiners have always had to go to bed in our household. I wrote that progress was swift and substantial immediately after the storm in terms of clean-up, but now we are down to the hard work of rebuilding, slogging along, progressing slowly, but PROGRESSING! I ended, if you can’t be supportive and helpful, go ahead and abandon the island. There are plenty of full-time residents who have genuine problems and need our help.

    Thanks for the soapbox. Tammie

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