It's all I can do to stand. I feel dizzy, drawn, mauled. Below me the floodwater roils to a violent froth that looks like dirty lice, a lace that continuously explodes before my eyes. If I look away, the earth moves backwards, rises and swells, from the fixing of my eyes at one spot against the motion of the flood. All the familiar land looks as though it were not solid and real at all, but painted on a scroll like a backdrop, and that unrolled scroll has been shaken, so the earth sways and the air roars.
Dillard is talking about the effects of Hurricane Agnes on Tinker Creek. Floodwater, walls of it, driving everything downstream. Trees. Bushes. Chicken coops. Dead horses. Dillard finds it disorienting, her familiar landscape turned alien, rolling and unstable.
I had my own mini-version of the Tinker Creek flood this afternoon. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan was assaulted with thunderstorms and tornadoes. Now, this may not sound like anything unusually noteworthy to my two Constant Readers, but tornadoes are not normal occurrences in the U. P. Our landscape isn't really conducive to tornadoes, thank goodness. Blinding blizzards, yes. Ice storms, certainly. Twisters, however, belong in Kansas and Missouri. Not in my little piece of rock jutting into Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.
Yes, for a few hours, the world was a little disorienting, like Dillard's. I ran an errand in the basement of the medical center where I work, and I found the entire lower level filled with evacuated patients and employees, waiting out the tornado warning. Weird. People were laughing, texting, and emitting funky scents. I thought to myself, "This isn't an emergency. It's an unexpected afternoon break."
I had an earlier disorienting experience, as well. This morning, I worked for the first time at my new/old job for a couple of hours. I hadn't slept well, was up three or four times during the night. When I got to the medical center, I did something I hadn't done since my sister died: I took the back stairs. This may not sound earth-moving, but it was for me.
You see, my sister walked those stairs every weekday for close to twenty years. Two flights up to the second floor, dressed in her scrubs, carrying her Diet Coke. My sister was my boss at the surgery center for 17 years. She was a creature of habit (like me). She parked in the same spot every day, took the same route into the building every day. Opened her office and turned on the light at the same time every day.
So, when I walked the stairs and walked through the doors of the surgery center, I had this moment of disconnection, as if I'd stepped back in time. For a few seconds, I actually expected my sister to be sitting at her desk, looking over her glasses at me, telling me to get my ass to work. It was only a few seconds of temporal disjunction, but it made me feel like I was . . . home.
I got to work. Fell into a rhythm. Started remembering things. It was good.
Saint Marty is happy. Mark this day on your calendar.