We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of the EPIC flood that blasted the Front Range last year. Our house flooded but not as badly as others, like my cousin who ended up living with us for six weeks. In reflecting on that time, I wrote this.
Last September, a 100-year flood besieged Colorado’s Front Range, causing epic destruction.
At least seven people died, two of them teenagers who were swept from their car by a raging torrent. The floods submerged entire neighborhoods. They destroyed the town of Lyons, situated at the base of two canyons. They isolated countless residents and visitors in mountain “islands,” and required help from the National Guard to rescue stranded people and their pets. The floods snapped concrete bridges in half. They robbed people of sleep and stamina, and buried passports and birth certificates, and ruined furniture, carpet, computers, and more.
And they brought my husband and me a new roommate: my 24-year-old poet cousin whose basement apartment was destroyed in the flood. She took up residence in our spare, albeit soggy, room.
Upon moving in, she ruminated on her belief that the torrential rains were somehow directly related to her. She wrote poems about how the catastrophe was evidence of the Universe rendering a verdict on her life. She also bemoaned the loss of her private space—our schedule of waking up with the kids between 5:45 and 6 a.m. was not conducive to her 2 a.m. bedtime; she wasn’t used to having people watching her come and go all day; and she couldn’t play her ukulele whenever she desired.
In mid-October, a month after the floods, it snowed, and Hannah took it personally, insisting that the errant weather was sent explicitly to test her resilience. Rather than annoy me, her insistence on placing herself as the central character in midst of the crazy, volatile weather reminded me of myself at her age. And that delivered a surprisingly comforting confirmation: things in life happened when they are supposed to.
Like Hannah, I had been a self-absorbed 20-something. Hell, you could say I have evolved into a self-absorbed 30-something. We all act on our personal self interest. The difference, naturally, is that parents are also hard-wired to put their kids first (thank god, otherwise how would they survive childhood?).
But back to my point: in my 20s, I embraced my selfishness. Every decision I made was done in response to the sole question, “What do I need in this given moment?”
For years, this version of Q&A propelled me through jobs, relationships, and hometowns, until I’d built a strong sense of myself. Eventually I stopped asking precisely what I needed, and began to wonder how I could help other people get what they need. It was about then I met Jeff. Coincidence? I doubt it.
Shedding the selflessness—without sacrificing my sense of self—was essential to preparing me for the sacrifices of motherhood.