Storms batter the coastline. Coconut trees veer and waver at alarming angles, dozens of their comrades have fallen with abandonment on bungalows and paths. The paths are now just rivers and swamps, as torrential rain floods the island. Pounding ocean waves engulf areas already flooded by spontaneous rivers, and restaurants and homes have new water features cascading down their steps.
My own bungalow, now part of an estuary and trembling on its feeble foundation, lies abandoned. Instead I seek solid high ground, taking my place with other storm refugees in a dormitory. Children run through the mattresses on the floor, loving the spontaneous slumber party and the excuse to stay in playing computer games all day. Worried mothers drink cups of tea downstairs and massage their temples. Sleep deprived, the bags under their eyes tell of nights disturbed by escape and backup plans. The young, single and responsibility-free, smoke weed, thud bongo drums and strum tunes. They talk the days away. And it is days- now it is the fourth day of this storm.
The darkness seems interminable, without even a stray ray of sunshine piercing storm cloud in all this time. The wind, violent and powerful, shakes the world and the island comes clattering down. The noise is incredible. Slamming waves, roaring waterfalls, incessant rain pouring down. It’s hard to separate the heart from the external world. In turmoil it spins and chews and chases its tail. There is nowhere to go, but anywhere seems better than here. There is no way out. Surrounded by tumultuous water, nothing will reach us. No boats, no planes. Just us, the wind, and falling coconut trees.
In this moment, I don’t want to be here and the mind reaches out, grasping. I want to be wrapped in your arms. I want to be beside you. I want to pass these stormed filled hours with you. Wrapped in your skin, your mind, your conversation, your heart. I want to be in it with you. Whatever exploration and discovery there is to be had, searching through my heart and mind, I want to do it where I can come out and grab your hand.
Isn’t this part of life, wanting to share the experience with someone you love? We have nerves built into our brain, wired to be connected with another. Mine are entwined with yours, and without you here, its like grasping air. Empty, hollow and slightly terrifying.
Not just you, I crave the whole web. To be meshed thickly into the relationships that build community becomes a ravenous desire when the world literally shakes on its foundation. Suddenly, I’m starving, and wanting to back there in it all. In the people, the expectations, the juggle, the love, the frustrations, the tug and pull. These relationships tighten around you. In some moments, confining and suffocating, but in storms like these, they are a refuge that pull you in and hold you tight.
Of course, there is only now. Now there is thick storms and turmoil inside me. I slip my fingers into, take its temperature. Weather it. Reluctantly. The wind, the rain, the flooding, the falling trees…the impatience, the anxiety, the claustrophobia, the frustration, and the longing. The longing for refuge and escape. And the realisation that at the centre of it, I long for you.
Of course, when I turn off the computer and away from my craving for community and connection, it is there waiting in the moment. There are three little boys perched between my mattress and the one beside me. Their mothers crowd over them, clambering over me, nit comb in hand, delousing their children. There is only a dim pool of light around us, and outside the wind is still battering the walls. Here, in this moment, there is also community.There is comradery and connection, and combined euphoria when the winds finally abate and the sounds of insects and frogs can again be heard in the jungle. There is shared joy when the rain ceases, even for a hour, and you find yourself standing amazed with a stranger that you can stand outdoors, dry.
In every moment. The craving, and that which is craved.