So this is quite strange. My return flight to Boston got cancelled today because of A Storm of the Century. Yes, the weather forecasters are using that term, as they are predicting and tracking Winter Storm Nemo.
(Has anybody else noticed that the title “______ of the Century” has a lot different meaning now than it did, say, 14 years ago? At the beginning of a century, as opposed to the end of one, that title is either speculative — “we believe this record will hold for another 87 years!” — or it’s just not that impressive — “It’s the biggest thingie of the century, SO FAR!”)
Oh, my. I haven’t even written three paragraphs, and I’ve already gone off on a digression.
I think it’s because I’m a little anxious.
Yes, I’m happy to be safe and sound right now — out of winter’s way — and lucky enough to be able to stay with a friend who lives in Columbia, SC until the airlines are flying into Logan again. At the same time, I feel very strange being down south right now, away from my peeps — my friends, family, and other fellow New England-ites — who are bracing for what looks like a HUGE blizzard even while I’m writing this.
Here are two more firsts for me: (1) I’ve never missed a return flight from a vacation and (2) I’ve never missed a major storm in the Boston area, my whole life.
RIght now, I’m trying to think of a specific movie, play, or novel, when a character misses — usually by luck — some disaster that hits everybody else that character knows. That’s such a primal plot element, isn’t it?
The first two stories involving Lone Survivors that come to my mind, right now, are: (1) Moby Dick and (2) Les Miserables.
I just found out — via Google, natch — that actor John Moschitta, Jr. ends his quickie rendition of “Moby Dick” with this clever little rhyme: “everybody dies but the fish and Ish.” Yes, only Ishmael is standing at the end. (Moby Dick, of course, is swimming.)
And in the movie “Les Miserables” (which I saw a few weeks ago with my sister) , that red-headed guy — the one that ends up with the girl — was the only one, among all his dozens of young, idealistic friends, to survive The Siege With The Big Pile of Furniture. Right?
And I’ll throw in just one more example of this common narrative motif of the Lone Survivor, before I move on. I’ve never seen them, but aren’t the “Final Destination” movies based on that premise, too — that somebody survives, by luck, some disaster that wipes out everybody else?
Okay, so here’s my point (and as Ellen DeGeneris would say, “and I do have one”). In those kinds of stories, the Lone Survivor feels pret-ty lousy. Anxious. Guilty. Et cetera.
Now, I’m not saying that I think everybody in Boston is going to be wiped out (although the media can sort of sound that way, where Storms of the Century are concerned).
But I still feel weird being down here.
Nevertheless, I did enjoy myself today, in Columbia SC. And, if you don’t mind, I would like to do another pictorial essay, as a way to distract myself — perhaps letting go of some feelings of anxiety and helplessness — as Nemo bears down on The Northeast.
Columbia, South Carolina
A Pictorial Essay
This is the very cool clock in the bedroom where I stayed last night. It belongs to the 5-year old daughter, Abby, of my friend Jenn, who both live in Columbia. Abby was kind enough to let me sleep in her bedroom last night, after her mother brought me home.
Here are some other things that kept me company in Abby’s bedroom last night:
There are also two ridiculously cute dogs that live in this house. I think they might have been a little dubious about a stranger staying in their home today, while the rest of the family was gone. I mean, I may be indulging in the cognitive distortion of mind-reading, here, but their expressions looked a little cautious to me — like they didn’t want to make any sudden moves.
See for yourself. This is Gunner, Ridiculously Cute Dog #1, soon after I woke up this morning:
And this is Fenway, Ridiculously Cute Dog #2, at approximately the same time:
After those Early Encounters of the Canine Kind, I did some laundry, which was great, since I had brought just enough clothes for my four-day stay.
I have to admit the washing machine scared me a little.
There were a lot of hi-tech buttons and panels there, but I couldn’t find any settings for Load Size, which threw me. However, this machine didn’t need any input from me in this area. After I started it up, it measured and weighed and spinned and lifted until it figured out the load size on its own. (Another first, for me: encountering a washing machine quite that independent and adept.)
After I did the wash, I went for a nice long walk, where that iPhone gal-about-town, Siri, was helping me find my way to lunch. On this walk, one thing I started wondering about South Carolina was the following:
Is there an attachment to and fondness for the game of Polo in this state? When I was in Charleston, the Carriage Ride Company that I chose for a Horse-and-Buggy tour around the city was named “Carolina and Polo Carriage Company.” David, who worked for that company, was one of those incredibly kind and engaging folks I met in Charleston:
And while I noted how “Polo” was part of the name of David’s Horse-and-Buggy company, I didn’t really think much about it, until I started noticing more evidence, on my walk today, of the significance of Polo for South Carolina:
I’ve googled “Polo South Carolina” but I’m not seeing any explanation of the connection here. Maybe somebody reading this blog will enlighten me. (Added later: David actually came to this blog, read, commented, and did tell me about a South Carolina/Polo connection, all of which delighted me. His comment is at another post, here.)
Anyway, Siri brought me to a wonderful little Chinese Restaurant in Columbia, named Chen’s, where Stephanie — the daughter of the owners — was incredibly friendly and helpful.
I felt a little sad when Stephanie told me that she was self-conscious about having her picture taken. She said what I hear a LOT of people say — “I don’t take good pictures” or “I never look good in photographs.” I’ve heard myself say that, too.
I thought she looked great, but I told her that I would check in with her after I published the post, to see how she felt about the picture.
(This is a later addendum to this post: When I spoke to Stephanie on the phone, a couple of days later, she asked that I remove the picture. She just didn’t like the way she looked in it. I would have loved to have taken another picture Stephanie felt comfortable with, but she and I couldn’t make that happen before I left. So, instead of that original picture, which I am removing, I will replace it with something I found hanging in the room where I slept.
That’s a calendar from Chen’s restaurant, hanging in Jenn’s daughter’s Abby’s room! I hadn’t known this when I stopped by Chen’s, but Jenn and her family love Chen’s, too, and they pick up food there all the time. And, as I found out later, Jenn LOVES the spicy noodle soup that I ordered for lunch there, which she reviews as follows: “The heat is a slow-developing heat, and it doesn’t burn out your palate. It’s spicy, but you can enjoy and taste all the flavors.”)
I loved my lunch at Chen’s:
On my walk back after my delicious lunch at Chen’s, I noticed this, which reminded me of one of my favorite mantras: “Lose your investment in the outcome” (which I wrote about on Day 28 of this blog, here):
Then, when I came back to the house after my walk, Gunner was looking a tad more comfortable with my presence (I think):
as was Fenway:
Well, that was fun. But I’ve put this off long enough. I’m going to publish this and then check the weather reports and see how Boston is doing.
Thanks for reading, everybody.