With fear comes many things.
The weather report beckons doom for my new home, in most of a half-dozen computer-generated predictions. Then in all of them. In a car, unfortunately, on the way to breakfast, the gas station is overwhelmed with drivers, spilling onto the road and disrupting traffic.
The sky is blue, with small cloudlets adrift in no discernible pattern. I startle slightly at the earnest measures. Evacuation measures engulf entire districts, and new-found friends. Seven years previous, just before America’s transformation, I stood on the balcony of my new home, trying to see Fuji through the sideways rain. The tsunami brought flooding and broken umbrellas to Saitama, far inland of the sea, and damage I was not equipped to assess elsewhere. With the mass of suited commuters I huddled behind vending machines on the Saikyo’s elevated platform, drenched through, until later that evening I found a windbreaker and rain pants to cover work’s requisite tie and slacks.
In the evening of the coming storm we help piling furniture into pools, stashing barbecues indoors and securing all signs of outdoor living. Our own house, small and box-like in nature, had already been prepared, books moved away from windows and covered lest they break, things unplugged for the inevitable power lapse, computer backed up and bicycle brought indoors.
Food, cash, gas, these things I had gathered either inadequately or not at all, instead relying on other’s preparations, on those who took the week’s worth of prognosticating in the utterly serious fashion it was meant. The concept of such informational deluge, made real the night of the storm through all-hours television and then battery-powered-radio coverage, overwhelms my senses and I flee to fiction, to small personal tasks, and then to yard work, to food preparation and consumption. I am sheltered by those who have but just met me, and appreciate their kindness even as I am stunned by their dedication.
Yes, the purpose of the opening statement is to clarify the outcomes, not to decry the causes. In a storm severe enough to shatter trees, windows and roadways, I remained safe not because I saw the needless fear in the advisory messages, but due to the kindness of those who appreciated the severity of the warnings so direly delivered.
As for my new home, I am proud of its structural integrity and admire the wood floors and light. As for my new city, I appreciate the hospitality and am not frightened by the news or weather. The year will speed past I am sure, three weeks already in more like a moment, and be gone. There will be smaller victories and larger lessons, but post natural destruction I can not avoid the memories of that first week in Saitama and the weather’s similarly unexpected impact. Likewise I find us here glorying in the first day of clear skies, welcoming in the autumn’s long afternoon with relieved grins after long travels and trying arrivals.