I’m sitting at home on the back porch and it’s a gorgeous day in Charleston, not a cloud in the sky. From here the river looks the color of sapphires, though I know that if I walk out on the dock, I’ll see that the water is muddy from the hurricane rains that blew through four days ago. Chainsaws are going off in the background. Our neighborhood is almost cleaned up, and our house and city are remarkably undamaged for the most part, unlike Hilton Head Island, my parents’ town two hours south. As I write this, they’ve not been allowed to return to their home yet and have no idea if their house weathered the storm undamaged.*
Home. It feels good to be home. It feels good to be here in my house, to have slept in my bed last night and cooked breakfast this morning in my kitchen. But home is more than a physical place.
When the evacuation notice hit, my husband, son and I packed the car and fled to my sister-in-law, Christine’s house, five hours away and north of Atlanta. My parents went south to Valdosta, Georgia, where they waited for the storm to pass at my aunt’s house.
I talked with my mom today: “Your Aunt Beck’s been a trooper, letting us stay in her house for a week.” I know my parents have been worried about their house, especially since news has come out that their town was one of the hardest hit. But mom also added, “We’ve had a great time visiting with Beck. It’s been nice.”
Yes, the silver lining of our storm evacuation was the unexpected quality time with family. My sister-in-law turned our evacuation into a vacation, complete with fair rides, food trucks and football. Our stay with Christine and her family was so lively that we seldom worried about our house, our business, our city. And that was a gracious gift.
Family. They pick you up and take you in, no questions asked. They let you pack up your cat, your freezer items and come to their house late at night. They let you interrupt their work and school schedules and let you sleep until nine when everyone else is up at six. They feed you barbequed meat and wine all week while you’re displaced and stock clean towels for your family.
We've been back in Charleston for a day now. Hopefully my parents will be able to return to their house tomorrow, as soon as they receive the green light from Hilton Head officials to get back onto the island. I pray their house is undamaged, but that old saying, "home is where the heart is," keeps playing over and over in my mind.
It’s the truest statement I know. Because we may have been away from our house, but we never left home. To be in the company of those I love and those who love me is the home I’ll never want to leave.
*Save for a few trees down and debris everywhere, my parent's house was undamaged.