A Diary of Hurricane Dorian

Indy advice columnist Rev. Billy Talen is in Florida as the storm approaches. He sends us this report.

Reverend Billy Talen Sep 2, 2019

I’m in Delray Beach with my 94-year-old Dad and we’re two days from landfall, or not. Dorian is the Hamlet of Hurricanes.  Ever since he was a single cloud he’s been dithering, spinning forward, then left, then right, then stopping to think. I’m standing in lines to buy flashlights and water and talking to my father about World War II. I keep looking at the ocean’s horizon, which I can see in the window here.

I’m looking for a sign from the storm. Dorian is over the blue curve of the sea, coming up a watery hill toward us. We’re waiting here in Florida Land on a classic Florida day: 88 degrees with sun and a light breeze. It’s white-people weather.  Ten million people are sunning themselves in “God’s waiting room.”

The defiance of this place is head-spinning. The Floridians seem to be saying: “Since we killed 80 percent of the life that that was here and replaced it with our suburban simulation of wealth, we are justified in treating this hesitating storm with disrespect. Our lives make the storms bigger, and we luxuriate here in our exhaust. We dare you, Dorian, how monstrous are you really? Are you a flamboyant drag-queen teenager, sharing the news cycle for a few hours with Trump and Greta and Boris?”

The storm is growing too fast, filled with the hot ocean, a planetary youth taking a dagger into the sky. Dorian is the only character in the only story that matters. The Earth’s clash with the villainy of a billion deadly vacations, this is the narrative of our time. I’ll see that sign in the tumult of the horizon, with its mountainous waves and winds going three times the freeway speed limit. This is a thing to notice, to study, to be silent with and pray to.

Dad’s sleeping in front of the TV. This nursing home has made a firm decision not to evacuate. Their reasoning is that since Dorian doesn’t know where he’s going, we shouldn’t put the old folks in a bus to Orlando. Dorian might go there, or Savannah. He might show up out of the sky and blow down Key West, that could be his party too.

Yes, Dorian is wandering in the blue, looking for you.

A version of this article also appears on musician Neil Young’s website

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