For me, it’s either really hard or really easy to write with a broken heart. If I have all the information I need, even it’s devastating, then it’s easy. Writing becomes my medium, my channel to connect my pain to some sort of release. But if there’s confusion or chaos, then it’s like my feelings have nowhere to go from the pain. And it’s hard to put them to paper.
Last night, I went to bed to the sound of the trees being buffeted by the wind. If you live in Vallarta, you know that most places don’t experience more than a pleasant sea breeze for much of the year. So wind lashing our trees around is not something to which I fall asleep. Sheets of rain pelted our skylight all evening, and our lights flashed off and on about ten times.
But I fell asleep easily, because the storm was starting to abate, and I was safe and warm. More importantly, I had just spent my evening surrounded by my family, who all instinctively camped out in our living room while Nora spun her circles outside. We watched the storm and listened to music while chatting and drinking tea. It was a mother’s cozy dream. I looked around me with gratitude at one point, watching my dogs tumbling over my kids while my husband played guitar. That was last night.
Now it’s today. I’ve just gotten up the morning after Hurricane Nora churned her way through the town of my heart, Puerto Vallarta, and I don’t know much. But here’s what I DO know:
- Rivers burst their banks, hurtling themselves all over places they don’t belong
- People’s homes are damaged or destroyed
- Rivers continue to rise
- There are missing people
- I haven’t heard from all the people who are very important to me
And so, writing this is difficult. I’ll write it up and send it in to my editor, and I imagine next week when you read this, so much will have changed. What I’m hoping is, it will have changed for the better, because this is pretty bad. Every time I open my newsfeed, it gets a little worse, but I keep opening it, because I have to know.
I can hear sirens come and go on the street beside mine and I send up my prayers with the passing of each. All I can do is what the authorities have asked, which is to stay home and keep checking on the people who are part of my community. I am gathering information to make sense of what’s happened, and to know how to direct the help I’m able to offer.
My heart is broken, because Vallarta has been my home for twenty-one years. If you’ve been here then you know how this city gets right inside your soul. She’s a special lady, quaint and old-fashioned on one hand, but sassy and beautiful on the other. She doesn’t sleep because she’s haciendo la fiesta all night long. Her skirts are sandy beaches, where the party’s still going in the morning.
So if my Vallarta is hurting, then so am I. So are we all who call this place home. The good news is that I know we have an amazing Civil Protection team who work tirelessly and organize with incredible efficiency. I know that we’ve got emergency response teams who are the most astonishingly hard-working and compassionate group of people, and who have seen us through so many disastrous moments.
And I know this community, because I was here during Hurricane Kenna and I saw what a community can do when disaster strikes (in the form of a category five hurricane). We come together and we brush each other off. We link arms and we stand up. And, as we rise, Vallarta rises with us.
Because we ARE Vallarta, and we will stand again.