Hurricanes of Octobers Past

hurricane lili

I had to be there at 7 AM on a Sunday morning, not my idea of a weekend well-spent. It was inventory at Structure, that loathsome time of the year when stock had to be taken, merchandise counted, and every last belt and pair of socks entered into the computer system. On this particular Sunday, I was still working at the first Structure I ever worked at: the Faneuil Hall location (now an offensive Abercrombie & Fitch).

It was October 1996, and Hurricane Lili was raging when I woke up. I was about to have my heart broken, or so I thought. That’s what it felt like, anyway. Even if it had all happened before. Even if it would all happen again.

I walked out to the kitchen and looked outside at the gray world. The rain was pouring down, and the wind was raging. Walking the few short blocks to the T station would have me soaked before I even started the long day. I thumbed through the phone book and called a cab. In all my years in Boston, it was one of the first times I used a taxi to get around, but it was absolutely worth every penny. I ducked into the yellow car and we sped off through the volatile weather.

Like waiting for a furniture delivery or in the extra hour of Daylight Savings, inventory was one of those bracketed pockets of time which feel removed from the rest of the world. A few other sleepy workers had already arrived, and soon we set to work. It was good to occupy the mind, and the hands. So much of survival depends on the simple task of keeping busy, of keeping in motion. Stillness and quiet allow the heart to go turbulent. I kept myself moving, faking a laugh with my co-workers, and eventually, years later, the laughter became real, until I could no longer tell what hurt so much. That’s the only way to trick the heart.

October has always been the time for such tricks.

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