How often we've read the "calm before the storm" reference as a metaphor describing so much of modern living in the USA. Today, we're living the reality. Well, reality is we'd be going about our business as we would any Sunday, running errands, tidying up the home, social events, museums or laundry. But the digital age allows us the luxury of viewing swirling red graphics and wide swaths of storm overlay showing us right in the path of a storm. Hurricane Sandy is lumbering up the Atlantic Coast right now. The atmospheric scientists predict Sandy will hook a slight left and team up with some other weather systems and, like a gang of marauding thugs, go on a spree of vandalism touching major east coast cities and causing some degree of hassle to 50 to 60 million people.
The question is, to what degree? The authorities are telling us to brace for the worst and hope for the best. Because no one is sure what will happen as this storm gathers steam, lets off steam and pushes its way around the northeastern US, we are held in some kind of erie thrall to its force.
It is almost 2 pm. The air is almost eerily calm. The clouds are darkening the sky. The forecasted rain hasn't arrived yet. Occasional mild gusts rustle the leaves remaining on the trees. It might be the almost-hourly (and obsessive) checking of the swirling red graphics on weather websites ginning up the imagination or it might be a truly instinctive feeling, but those occasional light gusts of wind feel just a touch ominous.
In a Rockville area Starbucks, a woman to my left reads the Washington Post. To my right, two women lean toward each other sharing gossip and workplace war stories. In front of me, a twenty-something man tutors a friend in math and jokingly promises marriage to the cute barista at the counter. A glance out the window and I note the trees picking up movement. It all seems so normal.