I hadn’t experienced a natural disaster until a day or two ago. As someone who had only heard of them, seen the after-effects on the news, or watched their grandiose imitations in movies, I had unrealistically tidy expectations of what they would be. I never brought the word “disaster” into my understanding of these phenomenon, and in my head these events became things of beauty; hurricanes were enormous towers of slate-grey wind chasing itself across beaches, tsunamis were Hokusai paintings you could live in, and a flood was a wet stampede of hands, weaving down streets and through open doors.
The one things I knew, absolutely knew, was how fast it would happen. This part especially defied reason, I had seen news reporters tracking storms, and through decades of small talk I was painfully aware of just how far we could look into our meteorological future. These calamities though, in my fictionalized world, had personalities and were just as capricious as I am. They would shake free their bodies, lope towards civilization, run a forceful blow across it, and then vanish back into everything, the only evidence they had happened the ruin in their wake.
So maybe the flood happened fast in actuality. There was earth, and then a few hours later there was water. Hours. I expected- I wanted, minutes. A flood was supposed to be thundering barrage of water hurtling towards me. Something I could run from. Something that would chase me. Something with a face, however alien it may be. It was supposed to have a body, and be angry and loud and large and easy to blame. It wasn’t meant to be just weather.
It seems to me the flood was like every other problem I’ve ever encountered. I plan for the dramatic monstrous moments that won’t happen. I have images of myself slaying dragons painted on the inside of my eyelids. But the dragons never come. I convince myself that when the real issue arise, I’ll be ready, that I shouldn’t bother with the minutiae, because their inconsequential nature will be nothing next to inevitable finale laying in wait. The flood wasn’t a malignant spirit wreaking havoc that could be fought, could be wrestled with. It was the compiled result of a dry summer, thirsty soil, and heavy clouds. It was the sum of millions of raindrops, not one of which hated me. It was all the little things in chorus.
I was ready for when the wave came. I was ready to stand firm against tidal force. But the wave never came. The flood was the gradual product of unglamorous processes, and during each step I never saw issue until I was chest deep in mud. The wave never came, but I felt myself get swept away regardless.