My favorite story in Ana Menendez's In Cuba I Was a German Shepard is the one about a young girl who spends a day or two getting ready for the hurricane with her father, her father who has such tales to tell about the insane hurricanes he weathered as a boy in Cuba, and the profound disappointment when the hurricane, for her, never comes.

Aside from just being some good ol' storytelling, that's pretty accurate. Menendez is about my age, and she writes our experience. My father was in Miami for Betsy, among others, and, then being the 60's (that seems a good catch-all excuse for everything) he and his 3 brothers and 4 sisters ran out into the storm just to see what it was like (and their parents were probably glad to be rid of them!). He told me about hanging onto a palm in the front yard, a palm that was doubled over in the wind, and watching huge pieces of who-knew-what tumble towards him down the street in the driving, blinding rain. He described the overwhelming power of the storm, and how small he felt standing there, and how defiant.

But for those of us who grew up when I did (born '75), it was a big, long, hurricane dry spell. We were like the children of soldiers, born into peace-time, who dream of growing up and getting our own, real-life war, not knowing how undesireable having it would be, but desiring first-hand knowledge above all else. Enid Shomer wrote about it beautifully in her poem (one of my faves of hers), "Hurricane Season" (1987):

...Something in us
longs to try the tragedy on
for size: barometer plunging,

wires slapped down, fish
in trees, the beach quarried
to a cliff where we teeter

as with a childhood fever.
In the churn of the wind's
blades, in the swollen

waves, there is this sidelong
wish, this trigger we finger,
a breath we hold for days.

Well, those days of breath-holding are over. Now, we've all tried the tragedy on, seen the destruction, felt the exhaustion and the despair, and we've sickened of it. But Ernesto, sweet Che, kind of reminds me of those earlier, more innocent (and yes, more foolish) days, when we wished for the big storm to come, and it just kept not coming.

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