There are risks no matter where you live, and this week I’m thinking about my island hometown, which is currently underwater. Living on the sea is always a gamble. Today, on LBI, the bay has met the ocean. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last, but it always breaks off something inside me.
When I was in middle school a(nother) big storm hit my town. My family lived on the lagoon for a few years, in a rental on a quiet street way at the edge of town, where you could see the Atlantic City casino skyline on clear days. We watched the water breach the lagoons, creeping up our backyard. We were so busy watching the back I think we forgot to watch the front, where the water surprised us, dribbling under the storm door, turning into a river.
About six or so inches came in that day. I remember leaving for higher ground — our neighbor, just a few houses down, wasn’t flooded, so we hung with her, eating weird canned soup with a metallic aftertaste and trying to keep ourselves occupied. We lost photos, but nothing else irreplacable.
A few years later, the island flooded again and lost power. I was at my summer job at Fantasy Island. We all got to leave and I joined the gang of 14-year-olds tramping through thigh-high water to the 7-11 where we could get Slurpees, because priorities. That day felt wild and free; it felt like being 14.
Now my grandmother has left our island home; my parents on the mainland have been evacuated, and people are tweeting pictures of my beloved hometown streets — the mini golf courses, the closed seasonal shops, the restaurants and dunes, covered in a mix of ocean and bay, waves overlapping.
So, yes, the sea is always a risk, but is it wrong that I find it a preferable one to anything else? I can’t imagine a tornado; I don’t want a basement to hide in; the fault lines in California make me nervous every time I’m there and it’s too quiet. No, I’ll take a sea any time. The water always recedes.