Expect the unexpected and be prepared for the rest. This is exactly what I experienced last year. After many years of deliberation, I finally decided to step a little out of myself and meet old friends. Friends with whom I spoke to daily and the friendship lasting longer than I can recall. The only difference was we were not in the same city so meeting every now and then was not an option. I gathered my laptop, pulled out the calendar, scheduled my time off from work, and booked the flight tickets. And now I was visiting not one but two of my close friends in a span of couple of months. I was excited.
First up – Colorado. I land there with the intention of vacationing for 4 days which extended to three weeks. How does that happen? The next day after I landed in Colorado I received texts from my manager of a possible hurricane in Texas. We were advised to make sure that we had a working connection to log in remotely if need be. And upon hearing this I thought to myself, there goes another dramatized precautionary weather alert. I certainly did not take it seriously at first. However, soon after, texts after texts started pouring in and I realized the severity of the situation.
From here on, an onset of ordeal began for which I was not at all prepared.
First, since I thought I was going on such a short vacation I wanted to disconnect myself from work. Hence, I did not carry my laptop with me. So the question? How would I work now? I informed my team that I didn’t have a computer with me to work remotely. And to my surprise, I was told I could log in from any computer. I asked my friend at whose house I was staying at and she gladly offered me her laptop. And now, I was able to work as normal. I soon called my friend and her husband my foster parents and I was their foster child. The amount of love and care that was showered on me during my stay there was unconditional. It was made sure that I was well fed and was not interrupted during my work. Till date, I am grateful to my friends for the immense positive energy that they showered me with that I was able to overcome some of the worry. I was constantly checking news, contacting my friends back home, and office to get updates on how the city looked. I was told over and over again that I was lucky that I was away from the flood scene. But in that moment I couldn’t stop dwelling over the condition of car and apartment.
Next, as the situation worsened and the rain kept pouring. The City had announced that the flood gates would be opened. This meant that the water from the dam would be released and the bayou’s would be overflown. Guess what? My apartment was right next to a bayou. Now, my stress level just shot up. My family listening to this news was equally stressed or more. They told me not to go back to Houston until the situation was under control and I kept saying I would go if the flights were flying into the city. It was a big tussle between me against the rest. Eventually, my leasing office informed the tenants that the complex had been severely damaged due to the floods. Water had entered into the units and we had to vacate the apartment.
Furthermore, now that I knew I was not able to return back to Houston until further notice, I flew from my friends place to my sisters. My family was happy to have me with them. Funnily enough they thought I would run off to Houston despite the severity of the situation. Truly, when it rains it pours. This was a natural calamity that none of us were prepared for. Hence, everyone over reacted with emotions beyond control. I continued to monitor the news and stayed in touch with friends back home. Soon, after three weeks of being away from home, I was informed that the apartment complex was accessible and we could take our belongings and vacate within five days. That seemed like a very short time. However, when you are faced with time sensitive matters there is little time to procrastinate. I looked for an apartment from California. Booked the movers. Booked a flight ticket and off I was to Houston.
As the flight flew over Houston, I did not know what to expect. I was thinking that the city would look submerged in water but was pleasantly surprised to see the trees bright and green from up above. Upon arriving at the airport my hope was that my car should be working that way I could jump right into the moving preparations and be able to get from one place to another quickly. Well, expect the unexpected. I reached my car and guess what? It was not working. Of course the car was flooded and could see the waterline on it. I had informed a friend to stay on standby in case I was needed to be picked up and sure they did. While I was waiting to be picked up I completed all the formalities for my car to be towed to the dealership. My friend arrived and we left to take care of few other tasks for the move. After that we went over to their place. They were gracious enough not only to shelter me at their place but also, provided me with a car till I got a rental vehicle.
Next day, few of my other friends willingly came with me to assist me with the move. Only when I reached my old apartment did I realize that the city had gone through a catastrophic event. The area looked like a hurricane went through it because it really had. Muddy cars, foul smell, debris, cop cars, movers, tow trucks, volunteer officers, and tenants in high spirits. I did not know what to expect next. We were not made aware of beforehand as to which units were affected and which were not. I spent all these days wondering if my unit had faced water damage or not. We reached the apartment, opened the door, and sighed a breath of relief. I was thankful that the place was intact. However, now came the real task. Packing! I did not know where to begin from. Had it not been for my friends who took in charge and control of the situation, I would have been completely lost. Together the three of us packed boxes after boxes and in no time we were wrapped up. The movers arrived the next day and I moved to the new place. And again, I stood lost. Because I moved from a larger space to smaller it was a challenge organizing the things. Sure enough, I had a friend who came to my rescue and helped me unpack like an expert. Now, I had a habitable place of my own to live under.
Next up was to address the car issue. The rental agencies were out of cars because they too were affected. I was on wait list on several places recommended by my insurance company. However, I could wait no longer and went with the first available rental that was available to me. And I finally received one. Now came the task of finding a new car. Car shopping has been an overwhelming experience as it was not as easy as shopping for a shoe. For a week while I was at work or home I was looking for cars online, visiting dealership after dealership, and test driving till I found a car I liked instantly.
Now, came the task of completing the paperwork with the bank and other formality. Meanwhile, I was still driving the rental and just a couple of days before I was going to receive my new car I got into an accident. Luckily, it was a fender-bender. However, in the moment of stress, I was not looking forward to another addition in my to do list. Gladly, the accident occurred close to the rental agency and I could easily exchange to another rental. Claim was filed and both the parties did their investigation and I was hoping there would be no financial implication. I was dealing between claims adjuster, rental company, dealership, and the bank to sort the respective issues of buying a new car, claim settlement on the flooded car, and the accident case. I hadn’t heard from the rental company for several days so I assumed all was settled without any penalty. However, just on the day of my birthday I received a call for the damages I was responsible for. What a birthday gift! Well on the brighter side I was fit and fine to celebrate my 30th with an amazing group of friends who stood by me in the most trying times.
I had finally received my new car, for the record, this was my fourth in the last 5 years. It just so happened and further more on those details another time. Finally, everything was settling in. I was off to shake of the stress and attended a longtime friend’s wedding. I was thrilled to be seeing him after a decade. Oh boy, time flies! I had a great time with a mixed bag of emotions. Oh well, by now you should have figured out that there must be something more to this. Yes, of course! I was looking forward to attending my favorite Coldplay’s concert but I missed it even though I was there. On the flip side, I was happy that I was able to enjoy my time off and meet old and new friends.
I am now back to Houston and settled down. I will be forever grateful for the moral support and a lending hand that everyone provided me during the trying times. I was mentally, emotionally, and physically shaken up. Time and tide waits for no one. Life goes on. But it is only when you are affected yourself is when things start to look challenging. You can lose everything or gain a lot at once. I truly realized that materialistic possessions are temporary. Invest in yourself and create memories. Be present in the moment. Make it easy on yourself, if tomorrow you had to unexpectedly move, your first thought shouldn’t be how will I, with all the accumulated things around me. But what is the next adventure I can march upon immediately. A divine force took care of me and removed me from all the obstacles graciously and brought me back when I had enough strength in me to be able to orchestrate a plan of action. So be present and create memories for life is passing by.