Hurricane Season

Today’s guest post is by the kind and generous Darrelyn Saloom, who is working on a memoir with boxer champion Deirdre Gogarty. Follow Darrelyn on Twitter, or read her previous guest posts.

Pictured above: Street Signs in Lafayette, Louisiana, after Hurricane Rita in 2005. All photos by Darrelyn’s oldest son, Christopher L. Frugé. For more photos visit his website, or follow him on Twitter.

An angry spine of thunderstorms blows onshore in a jagged, bowed line on the radar screen. It spins northwest and knocks out power in Grand Isle, Louisiana, and spawns a tornado that pokes out of a dark, gray cloud and then pops back inside like an unborn child reluctant to leave the womb.

I watch the local weather report as the squall line speeds closer to my home in Acadiana. I’m anxious even though I’ve seen this scenario dozens of times. When I finally hear rolling drumbeats of potential disaster, the storm dissipates. Only a gentle whoosh of rain sweeps across the roof of my house.

(Above: Storm Brewing in Cypremort Point, Louisiana)

Of course, I’m not always so lucky. I’ve stirred pots of red beans and rice by candlelight. I’ve witnessed sideways rain and gasped as a massive live oak disappeared from the view of my bedroom window. But I’ve only evacuated once. I packed up my family with leftovers of shot nerves after Katrina and Rita before Gustav arrived.    

The only hurricane to come ashore this season swirls inside me. And it’s because my youngest son is moving away. He hasn’t lived at home in years. But he’s been living nearby while attending the local university. Now he’s going to graduate school. I had hopes he’d choose Tulane. Instead, he’ll be carrying a passport, dropping off his cat, and moving to London.

I’ve never been to London. And the unfamiliarity bothers me. So I fly over the city on Google Earth. I find the building where he’ll be staying. I even map out his route to the university and back. Hyde Park is nearby. Trafalgar Square and The National Gallery are within walking distance. It looks lovely from space.

As his departure date nears, a low pressure of heaviness grows in every cell of my body. It expands with each passing day. My cloud tops are exceeding 50,000 feet. But the tornado I am spawning is anything but reluctant. The young twister is an ecstatic whirl of energy. More importantly, the funnel cloud is ready to break away.

The reason I’m able to drag myself from bed every morning is the memory of excitement on my son’s face the day he booked his flight. No matter how much you love your mother—to be free of her meddling invigorates body and soul. I remember the feeling. It’s liberating and necessary and part of the plan. I don’t have to like it. But I need to let go.

I have no idea what will happen once he is gone. I wonder if the levees will break, if the streets of my psyche will be littered with debris.

Perhaps the storm will dissipate and pass in a gentle sweep. So far the Gulf of Mexico has been fairly calm. No evacuations have been issued, no tornado warnings.

And yet—it’s been a turbulent hurricane season.

(Pictured above: Grand Isle, Louisiana Sunset)

You might also like:

  • No Related Posts

34 thoughts on “Hurricane Season

  1. Eileen Schuh

    It’s sad when the kids move on with their lives. I’m lucky that mine keep returning. Even better–I now have 2 grandsons. We must appreciate each phase of lives, each day, each moment–rain or shine or hurricane. It’s life. Our life. For such precious little time.

  2. DazyDayWriter

    I loved this sentence, in particular. Weather so often externalizes our inner worlds …

    The only hurricane to come ashore this season swirls inside me.

    I have a good friend living in London. We went to high school together in central South Dakota. She does PR for wine companies, travels extensively, and loves London. Another link. and you may already know Roz Morris from facebook or twitter … she writes the blog "Nail Your Novel" (also a book on amazon). Believe she’s based in London.

    Take heart, your son made a great choice!

  3. Deb Rabon

    I felt compelled to leave a comment after reading your "weather report" and forecast for navigating the emotional storms of life and the passages we take as parents and children. My 22 year old daughter just left for New York with hardly a clue as to how to secure her future, but I felt like I should support her wanderlust and desire to make the world her oyster. She keeps in touch with Skype and wipes away tears as her Dad comes into view from the kitchen changing the banter to something funny and light-hearted because her little heart can’t take too much mommy emotion. She begs us not to go to bed yet, to please stay up a little longer and it feels like she is three again (not wanting to give up to sleep), until she makes a joke about us being old and we say good night and blow each other kisses.
    Your words were so touching. Your love for your son is palpable and your admiration is so honorable. Good luck to him on his travels, and please keep us informed as to how you are making the journey. It was just beautiful to read.
    Deb Rabon

  4. Jillian

    What a beautiful metaphor for the love that a mother holds for her child.

    The photographs by Chris and your words brought tears to my eyes.

    I have always had this image in my mind of walking down Broadway to the theatre, wintertime in NYC, with my three boys dressed in their tweed coats, all of us arm in arm.

    We want the best for our children but that inevitably leads to their leaving us for a time to explore the world. London though…perhaps you should factor in a month abroad???

    It is amazing what our children bring to our lives.

  5. Russell Tauzin

    Darrelyn, I am blown away! Beautiful, brilliant!!
    Yes, it has been a turbulent season. Unfortunetly it has spawned many more storms than projected. You have an incredible talent, Thanks for sharing.

  6. BlueToYou

    What a beautiful essay. People who live in hurricane prone areas are a breed unto ourselves. My grandmother at 93 would look at the coming hurricane as just another big storm as long as she had her shutters put in place, and she had plenty of food and candles. But how exciting for our son to go to London, one of my all-time favorite cities! Tell him he must feed the pigeons at least once in Trafalgar square and that he can do the Cliffs of Dover and Cantebury in one day, but the last train leaves Cantebury for London around 11 as I recall. If he likes theatre, he should book a train ticket up to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival! It’s worth it for the street performers alone, and student tickets are as cheap as 5 pounds for many shows.

  7. Sally G

    What a beautiful and moving piece, a tiny and exquisite work of art…like peering into your soul with a magnifying glass. The hurricane metaphore is perfect–who can conquer the forces of nature? But as all hurricanes do, once they’ve passed, all of the debris of our lives is cleared and new paths open up before us. You tell us that the deepest pain of separation means only that we have been blessed enough in our lives to love and be loved so much it hurts.

  8. Mary L. Tabor

    The depth and power of mother love are here transfigured through both the literal and metaphorical hurricane, the refuge the mother has been from the storms of existence and the joys of transformation that constitute the "letting go," incipient at birth.

    Brava, Darrelyn, for this love letter to your son and for the power of its unique expression that reaches us all,

    Mary

  9. Donna Carrick

    Wow, Darrelyn, what a powerful piece! The biggest fear of motherhood — separation from our children — couched in the pride and raw anxiety of a magnificent storm that has been banked for the moment.

    Your son obviously deserves your pride. He can handle the journey. Please ask him to send lots of pictures to share with all your mom friends! He’s so talented.
    Donna

  10. Jennifer Kemzuro

    I love the photography by Chris, he’s so talented!
    I’m reading this on my phone at 4:30 in the morning while feeding my newborn son. Oh the thought of my soft, little angel going so far one day. I want that for him but then I kinda wanna keep him snuggled right here in my arms forever. Honestly he fell asleep over 10 minutes ago, could have put him back in his bassenet but I just love holding on to him a little bit longer.

  11. Deirdre Gogarty

    What a wonderful line: "No matter how much you love your mother—to be free of her meddling invigorates body and soul." I guess, because I came from Ireland, I’m thinking more of Jesse’s exciting cross-Atlantic experience more than the grief of poor Darrelyn left behind. But her emotions, so beautifully expressed, make me reconsider my own mother’s inner storms which, at the time, I gave little thought. Very touching. And Chris’ photos are outstanding!

  12. Marisa Birns

    This tugs at the heart. So very hard to say goodbye to one’s child, no matter their age. But, it is a testament to your parenting skills that your son felt excitement when booking his ticket, rather than fear about taking another major step.

    I have been to London – am going again at the end of the month – and it is a wonderful place. Always return changed for the better when I travel, and your son will have amazing experiences that will change him for the better, too.

    Of course, sobbing into your tissue the first couple of nights is acceptable. And wait until you visit him! He’ll be so proud showing you around.

    Amazing pictures. Your older son is truly talented.

  13. Jane Bretl

    Darrelyn,
    Ahh, I was hoping we would see a post about this turbulent time in your life, knowing the story would be heartwarming to read, and likely therapeutic for you to write. We want that for you, because as a writer you have touched people so deeply that we as readers care about your joys and sorrows. Now your sons are like the kids of a neighbor, and we find ourselves wondering what they have been up to. I’ve never been to your area of the country, but through your words, post after post, I can… see it, even more clearly than through your older son’s beautiful photographs. That’s the magic of a story in the hands of a true storyteller.

    As a mom who struggled with sending the boy to camp this year (it was a 20 minute drive!), I found the perfect balance of emotion and humor in this post. I’m reading along, drawn in to the stretching heartstrings, and just when I thought I was going to feel the relief of tears breaking over the edge, you recount how you traced his route on GoogleEarth, and it looks lovely from space. So it was the laughter that provided the relief after all.

    I have been to London several times, the first time at age 20 doing a semester abroad. In my youthful oblivion and through the many years that have followed, I have not taken the time to imagine so vividly how my parents must have felt, in their little Wisconsin town, putting their little girl on a plane to go a long, long way away. Today, I do.

    London is indeed lovely, even at ground level. And, now, through your son’s words, you will get to see it too, because viewing new places and experiences and smells and sounds through the lens of his eyes is just about the most magical way to see something new.

    Thank you for today’s trip. I enjoyed it very much.

  14. Jenn

    Sweet Darrelyn,

    Your words left me covered in goose bumps with tears in my eyes. You expressed your emotions so eloquently, I could feel them tapping in my heart.

    As the mother of a 15 year old son, I am going to pretend this day is not going to come for me. Even though I see it in his eyes that he is destined for greater things than my town can likely offer.

    Thank God for Skype and Google Earth! Oh, and the website that will let you track him through the sky as he enters this exciting new chapter in his life.

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece!

  15. Mary

    My sons are 5 and 8– I have all of this storminess ahead of me. Watching them grow is an incredibly bittersweet adventure. Your post made me miss the South so acutely…the smell of rain, of marshes, of live oaks; Edinburgh will never smell like home to me.

  16. George LaCas

    Another awesome post, Darrelyn, though it’s too bad it was inspired by the sadness of your son going off to school. You’ll be all right! And it looks like you’re already starting to deal with it by writing about it, which makes this piece all the more heartfelt.

    Nice work with the hurricane images. I live on the Gulf Coast of Florida, and I know what hurricane fear is like. Yikes!

    Looking forward to your next post.

  17. Christian Allman

    In my previous post regarding Darrelyn Saloom’s contribution, I MEANT to say: "…with a pitch perfect sense of the delicate balance of emtion and
    NO-NONSENSE" realism."

    I would have loved to been able to erase and repost with the corrected copy, but could not find a function that would allow me to do that!

    My apologies to Ms. Saloom, whose writing and sensibilities I greatly admire.

  18. Christian Allman

    Darrelyn Saloom’s reflections in her latest post for the "There Are No Rules" blog will be painfully familiar to those of us mourning the loss of our children’s innocence. Or is it our own innocence – the feeling we’d always be the anchor and center of our children’s lives? I especially liked the way she framed her feelings about her son’s last few days at home: "As his departure date nears, a low pressure of heaviness grows in every cell of my body….But the tornado I am spwning is anything but reluctant. The young twister is an ecstatic whirl of energy. More importantly, the funnel cloud is ready to break away."

    As always, Ms. Saloom frames her observations in warmly human terms, with a pitch-perfect sense of the delicate balance of emotion and nonsense realism.

    As she writes about Google mapping the university, "It looks lovely from space." To which I would add: It looks more lovely still up close.

  19. Carolyn Burns Bass

    Oh, Darrelyn, I feel the tempest alongside you. My daughter did a semester in England and though I was so happy she had that opportunity, I missed her more than I imagined. Then she moved across the country to grad school in Washington, DC. A new storm is brewing inside me as my husby and I plan a move from Cali to Virginia. We will be closer to the daughter, but now leaving my 21-year-old son at school in Cali.

  20. kathryn magendie

    I want to take that first paragraph and bronze it, put it on my bookshelf so I can see it over and over – god that is an awesome paragraph…which is not to say the rest is any less compelling, but that first paragraph made me breathless.

    Oh, London London! I’ve never been ‘cross the pond’ – never been outside the US. My only son is in the US, but I remember the day he left Baton Rouge (when I was living there and where he was born) to move to Portland Oregon – waaaayyyyyyy far away to some foreign land I’d never been. He’s still there, and I am across the long way in North Carolina – he had his first child – my granddaughter – the miles seem even more distant. Ah. Mothers.

    How proud you must be- and how sad, too – all mixed up stormy. A brilliant piece of writing (and analogy).

  21. Mari Juniper

    Although I have no kids I sympathize with you Darrelyn. I’m sure he’ll have a great time and you’ll keep in touch through skype and other eletronic means. The wonders of internet. 🙂

    I love how you compare your emotions with a tornado, it’s most fitting. The pictures are amazing too, he seems to be very talented. My best wishes to you both!

COMMENT