6:00am: Wide awake since 4:00am, nothing to do but listen to thunderstorms as they rumble through the area, soaking the ground and filling the bayous and streets once again.
6:30am: Worried about flooding, Richard takes to the streets and starts clearing out storm drains again. Unlike yesterday, no neighbors out and about this early to help. He tells me to stay inside, out of the rain. Sweet husband.
7:00am: Supposed to be getting on the road right about now, headed to Waco to pick up a generator and supplies from my father. Not going to happen in this weather.
7:30am: Call best friend to let her know that road trip has been temporarily rained out.
8:45am: Rain has subsided enough to finally leave the house. Kiss Richard goodbye, feeling massively guilty about leaving him behind for the day. He wants to stay and guard the house, though. What can you do? Plus, the dogs won’t be lonely.
8:50am: Pick up best friend, who’s standing in line with her mother at Randall’s, waiting for the store to open.
9:00am: Store opens as we’re pulling away. Line of people stampedes anxiously into the store.
9:15am: Jessie, the ultimate wandering bohemian soul, has already stuck a CD of Eurotrashy Polish dance music into the dash and is yammering away in Polish to a Czech friend on the phone, telling him to go over and help her mother clear the yard out today. This will be a fun trip.
10:00am: Driving towards Hempstead on 290. The Lowe’s out here has opened up and the parking lot is jammed with cars. A faint line of people snakes back and forth in front of the hardware store.
10:05am: I tell Jessie, “I can’t wait to get to Hempstead and stop at McDonald’s, cause I’m really f***ing sick of applesauce.”
10:30am: Stop at a McDonald’s somewhere near Navasota. All attempts to eat at other fast food places result in FAIL due to massively long lines.
10:35am: This is the nicest McDonald’s ever, and I’m not just saying that because I’m starving. Why is there such a nice, modern, clean McDonald’s out here in BFE? It has flat-screen televisions and comfy chairs, for God’s sake. WTF?
10:40am: After standing in line forever, irretrievably confuse the girl behind the counter when I order a vanilla iced coffee. “We don’t have none of them.” Really? Then why does it say “vanilla iced coffee” right there on that sign? And on those over there? “That’s not what it says.” Okay, I’m sure that I’m the one who’s misreading the signs. I’m normally not this rude, but I’m way too tired for this crap. Jessica is snickering loudly behind me. Manager hears me, comes over, rings up my vanilla iced coffee and gives the poor counter girl a withering glare.
10:50am: Back in the car with our hot Egg McMuffins and coffees. Nothing has ever tasted so good in the history of the world. Feeling incredibly guilty right now as I think of Richard alone in a dark house with only a hand-cranked radio and some dogs for company, and definitely not with any hot food or coffee.
11:30am: Cracking up as we pass through Marlin, remembering the time that Jessie (with whom I went to college) and I tried to drive to College Station from Waco and her POS old Saab broke down in Marlin, about 1/8th of the way there. We determined it was her radiator and hiked to a nearby pond (which was really just a tank for the cattle in the field to drink from) to get water for it. Pond water. For her radiator. Needless to say, that also resulted in FAIL, and we had to hitchhike back to Marlin where we waited in a Dairy Queen with $0.15 between us for some friends to come and get us.
12:15pm: Finally in Waco! It is an absolutely gorgeous day here.
12:20pm: Pull up in front of my old dorm and greet my dad. Very, very happy to see him.
12:30pm: Load up car with generator, gas cans, battery-powered TV and radio, food, drinks and FUDGE! Hooray!!! Daddy is AWESOME.
1:00pm: Go to campus Starbucks to get a cup of coffee and catch up with dad before going home. So incredible to be in a place with A/C, lights and televisions! Side note: the Starbucks on campus shares space with a Chili’s, which — because it’s on the campus of the world’s largest Baptist university — does not serve alcohol. Funny to think of Chili’s without margaritas.
1:30pm: Daddy has to get back on the road to Dallas and we have to charge up our cell phones. Call an old friend who’s in law school up here to see if we can use his place as a charging station.
1:40pm: Get to Rett’s loft and plug in all our electronics, cell phones, camera batteries, computers, etc. Time for brief hugs before we run out to Best Buy to buy a car charger for my cell phone.
2:00pm: Driving through campus on our way back to Rett’s. Baylor has changed so much since I graduated that it’s almost unrecognizable now. Trying to be nostalgic, but simply find ourselves lost in all the new buildings and sad that our old university has been seemingly swallowed up.
2:15pm: Back at Rett’s, he’s ordered us a pizza and we’re checking our email and calling our offices. Munching on pepperoni pizza in a nice, air conditioned loft with the Saints game on TV; life would be good if we didn’t have to go back to Houston.
2:30pm: Richard calls to see if we’re on the road home yet; feel even guiltier than before that I’m eating pizza while he’s sitting at home, alone. He hears the football game on in the background and I can tell that he’s just miserable. Jessie and I leave immediately.
3:15pm: Stop in Hearne to get some gas for the car and the gas cans. Line for Exxon is backed up for blocks, even this far north! I fill the tank and gas cans while Jessie gets some Cokes inside.
3:30pm: Back on the road, Jessie pulls out two Diet Dr Peppers and some jalapeno chips. “The spiciness of the jalapeno chips really complements the Diet Dr Pepper and sort of enhances the sweetness,” she says idly. She’s not joking.
5:00pm: Been driving for ages. Traffic is bad, as everyone is trying to come back to Houston. Getting closer now…
5:30pm: Finally arrive home after dropping Jessie off. Richard is ecstatic to see me and to see the food. We unload the car, which takes a good half hour.
6:00pm: Inside our darkening house, trying to put all the food in easily accessible places. It’s like a buffet of non-perishable food items. We feel rich, extravagant, kingly, with our endless selection of granola bars and tuna pouches.
6:30pm: Richard is trying to get the generator started before the night comes. He’s a lovely person, you know, but not very mechanically inclined.
6:45pm: I start the generator myself and revel in the stench of gasoline and motor oil covering my hands and feet as the lights flicker on inside our house. I feel as if I should sprout a chest hair or two.
7:00pm: We have an operational refrigerator!!!
8:00pm: Jessie comes over to visit. “I couldn’t remember where you lived” — typical, even though she’s been here a million times — “but then I just thought, I should go wherever there’s a huge generator and that’s probably where you are!” Yep.
9:00pm: Drinking wine and slightly cold beer, eating beef jerky and Quaker’s Chewy Granola Bars, watching the battery-powered TV and seeing some of our first images of post-Ike destruction. Craziness.
10:00pm: Finally turn the generator off and trek upstairs to bed. Richard and I both have to go to work tomorrow morning, unlike any of our other friends, and we’ll have a long week ahead of us…