We were all moved by the multitude of stories being made public these past few days – especially those involving families/kids. The below post was a Facebook post from a friend of mine who relocated her family from Orlando to Nashville to escape Hurricane Irma.
Late Thursday night we decided we should return to Nashville on Friday (after having just been there for the holiday weekend) to wait out Hurricane Irma. Our area is not under evacuation as we are not near the coast, but we have these gorgeous, huge trees that hang over our house and give shade from the Florida sun, but they suddenly look terrifying when considering the possibility 100mph winds. So after a 17+ hour drive, we made it to Nashville late last night.
A few notes and observations:
1. There are awesome podcasts for kids. Brains On, Wow in the World, and Stories Podcast were hits with all of my kids. An excellent option to keep kids occupied on a long car ride. And I love the opportunity to develop their ability to just listen and not need to be stimulated by something visually at all times.
2. We took a lot of backroads. I was struck by how some of the little towns looked so familiar though I never had driven through them. One town looked so much like a town in upstate New York with similarly styled houses, the little downtown, and cute little churches, except for the palm trees and Spanish moss hanging from the large oak trees, of course.
3. I live in a world in which safety is the default, an assumed expectation and a standard. I am reminded yet again that is not the norm for much of the world and many in this country. Joining a mass exodus of people–some fleeing for their lives, some for safety, and others for comfort or convenience–is gut-wrenching. Every license plate was a Florida plate, cars packed full, with extra gas tanks on top. Every car another family or couple or person with a different story and a different reason for making the decision to leave. Gas stations empty or with lines down the street and rest areas so packed that there were lines to park, some people parking on the grass off of the interstate. The travel was long and inconvenient, but we travelled with air conditioning and food and other creature comforts. We are privileged people living in a country of privilege. People the world over are escaping places in more dire situations every day. I can’t help but to imagine the trauma of moving a child across borders from a war torn country in a boat or bus, forcing this inconvenience of mine into perspective. This recognition propels me further to find ways to help, for this privilege and comfort that I did little to attain are only greed and selfishness if I can’t share what I have with those who have great need.
4. Finally, people can be so kind. Upon seeing our FL plates, our unruly kids, and our gas cans strapped to our roof, people offered us water, pointed us to local playgrounds, and asked how they could help when they saw us in their local grocery store parking lots. It takes a village. Friends who check on your house, grandparents who encourage you to come, grandparents who open the door at 2am, and friends and family who text and callI are all extravagant showings of love. I am worried about the coming days and my friends and my home, but I am grateful for the ways in which love is shared through it all. I want to share love too. Limitless, conditionless, bountiful love.
To all of our FL friends: stay safe and keep in touch. We’ll see you for the clean up next week. xoxoxo
Ashley Josleyn French is a former educational consultant who now is pursuing a Ph.D. in Sociology with an emphasis on religion and gender. A college lecturer in Sociology and Women’s Studies, she also writes at www.thestayathomesociologist.com. She lives with her husband and three children in Winter Park, FL.