"Grab two sleeping bags and go to Colin's place," our landlady commanded above the cell-phone static, "You're blocked in. Trees are down. This wind is strange, and it's making me nervous."
I hung up the phone and another gust rocked our little cedar-log cabin. Thunder rumbled. Lightning struck. Rain pelted the tin roof with no mercy. I thought of how just yesterday, I was admiring the persimmon tree in my father-in-law's garden. The blue Italian sky against the flaming orange fruit. "Giuseppe!" I called as another gust hit. The wind turbine made the noise it makes when wind speeds are higher than usual. Imagine a giant bed sheet made of metal hung on a clothesline snapping in the wind. But tonight it sounded as though the bed sheet were as big as the sky itself. Now I was nervous, too. "Do you think we're safe here?" I asked. Giuseppe didn't hesitate. "Of course," he answered. And for some reason,I believed him. Maybe because I was simply too jet-lagged to believe otherwise, to consider dragging two sleeping bags to Colin's cold, empty cabin in the dunes and sleeping on the floor.
Or maybe I believed him because I'd weathered many storms in this little cabin. I'd arrived here alone on May 7, 2008 with a broken heart and this cabin was my refuge. I learned how to split wood here, to tend a fire. I learned that every drop of water I used to bathe, cook, and wash dishes fell from the sky. It was during these moments I forgot about things like broken hearts. But when I remembered, when I'd sit by the fire at night and see my whole life go up in flames, the eighty cedar logs surrounding me stood firm. And I knew I was safe in their embrace.
I've spent more than a year alone in this cabin. Many times I've cried myself to sleep--especially on dark, winter nights when the wood was damp and I couldn't get a fire going. Or when we'd run out of power and I had one candle left--forced to decide whether to use it to read, or to illuminate the dark morning when I woke to make tea. I've spent weeks listening to wind--southeast, northwest and all directions between--blowing through the chinks. I've watched hundred foot trees bend like blades of grass. Coldness, darkness, the relentless cry of the wind--these are the things that have tried my spirit. When there is no central heating, unlimited power source, or insulation--one is forced to confront the reality of the elements--and how alone they can make us feel. Again and again, I've been humbled into realizing that I am a creature of light, of warmth. Of company.
I spent my wedding night in this cabin. I've hosted dinner parties with the types of friends one can only hope to meet at the end of the road on the tip of an island. I've read countless books--meeting opera singers in Central America, novelists living on Capri. I've watched Penelope (the cat) sleeping on the bed in a pool of sunlight. And I've touched the cedar logs, every single day, wondering what life still courses through them. There is reason to believe their embrace isn't just imagined. There is reason to believe that even during a hurricane, we are safe.
Thank you for reading.