Life, art, and hurricanes

For the second year in a row, almost to the very date, I was headed to Georgia to escape the tidal waves likely to flood our house, a gorgeous old Florida home only a block and a half from the Atlantic Ocean. Living so near the beach has had its romantic appeal and something I dreamed about as a teenager, but the romance gets old when forced to flee the havoc of large, destructive storms. Hurricanes.

So for the second year in a row, I evacuated with my two animals (one cat, one bunny) and my two friends from upstairs and their herd of cats, our three cars, their camper, and their boat. And for the second year in a row, my downstairs apartment was flooded and pretty much destroyed. We rebuilt last year. We rebuilt this year. More rain and more flooding. Not gonna rebuild again.

My friends put their house up for sale. I have to move.

All of this upheaval shoved two questions into my head, neither one having to do with which campgrounds in Georgia would be far enough away from wind and water. No. Nothing that practical. Instead, I thought: 1) How does one live a life in art, when life is happening and distracting you from creating anything? 2) What is the nature of a life in art?

Of course, as any teacher would tell you, the second question must be answered first, before you can define the details of that answer. If that first question can even be defined.

I came to find out that when life is happening, it’s damned hard to be philosophical, so I’ll save all that for 2018 blogs.

I’m all packed up again, ready for an impending move away from the coast in North Carolina.

Oh, and I acquired another cat. He was a happy wanderer in our sparsely populated neighborhood, who would drop by upstairs, timing his visits with when my friends fed their herd of five cats. (No, they’re not hoarders but the victims of kindheartedness toward animals. When a former happy wanderer showed up one day, who stayed just long enough to drop her litter of five on their doorstep, they couldn’t refuse the gift.)

So Spike, the latest feline nomad, got rounded up and came with us on the mandatory evacuation from this barrier island. He came with us last year, too, during Hurricane Matthew. But both times, it was clear he wasn’t fitting in with the Herd the way my cat did, so he spent the time in the back of a truck and we spent a lot of time there to keep him company and to assure him his outdoor ways would have to stay on hold until we got back.

When we got back home this time, the neighborhood was awash with spilled over ocean water (yes, my apartment was flooded again) and it wasn’t safe to let Spike wander around. Since the Herd kept him hiding under things and in general made him feel unwelcome, he came to live with me and my cat Sandy Kingston. Yes, after furious mutual grooming, which breaks into fights, with Sandy going for Spike’s throat to show him who’s boss, I now have two cats, who, more or less, get along just fine. It helps that Sandy is a big, elegant Russian Blue, and is a natural dominator (he’s on the left, Spike has white markings), so both cats know who’s who and what their roles are, though Spike forgets a lot.

So things have settled down into moving mode and I am almost all packed and ready to go. I have been thinking how all this fits into a life in art. All I know at this point is that it does. More soon.

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