Powerless—by Jamie Levine
I’ve often been told that I’m a very strong woman. I’ve traveled around the world on my own, am a single mother by choice, and, because I haven’t been blessed with many long-term boyfriends, I’ve gotten used to taking care of myself. But Hurricane Irene really threw me for a loop.
The day before the hurricane, Jayda and I embarked on one final errand at 8:00 a.m.: We went to our local fruit store to stock up on some necessary produce, and bam!—bumped smack into Library Guy and his kids. I barely spoke to my ex, but our children were excited to see each other, and it was difficult for me to get away. Jayda even followed Library Guy’s boys outside so they could show her “their” new car. Afterwards, I was so shaken, I couldn’t help but text Library Guy, “Good to see you…not-so-good to see you. Know what I mean?” and a few emotional texts followed. Nothing’s changed. Library Guy thinks the world of me and told me again how I’d changed his life—said I’d taught him so much about how to be a single dad and how to care for someone again, and that he’d never wanted to hurt me. But he clearly doesn’t want to be in a relationship with me. And I still miss him—or at least, what we once had together. And instead of walking away like I’ve done each time I’ve seen him since our breakup, my fear of the storm weakened me.
When Library Guy wished me luck with getting through the hurricane and told me to call him if I needed him, I admitted I was quite scared. He then kept in touch with me throughout the evening and the following morning to give me advice and to make sure I was alright. And as much as I hate to admit it, he calmed me: Because I had him to lean on, I slept decently through the storm, and felt better about the aftermath (Jayda was sick throughout the night, and we lost power because three trees fell down on my block—one onto our driveway, which almost smashed our car). And the following day, when my car wouldn’t start, Library Guy bought me coffee and waited with me until AAA came to help.
Library Guy is emotionally unstable; consumed by his own life, his ex, and the stresses of fatherhood; and maybe even a bit narcissistic. But he’s also a “decent guy,” and he knows how to take care of me (when he wants to). So, for a few days, I was enveloped by his good side and felt so happy to have reconnected with him. The familiarity felt great, and I enjoyed catching up with him and having his attention. I didn’t expect to become his girlfriend again, but I started to think it might be nice to have him in my life again, in some capacity. But nothing’s changed…Library Guy certainly hasn’t changed…and while he may like to spend time with me, he can’t give me what I need. In fact, I’m rather certain he doesn’t want to.
I live in a neighborhood that is filled with old trees, and because so many of them were felled by the storm, my street was without power for seven straight days. For the first few days, my daughter had a virus and I had to care for her without lights, refrigerated food, hot water, and, most importantly, a television. I had to bathe my daughter at different friends’ homes every few days, keep her entertained and well fed (without a working refrigerator or stove), and was stuck in a dark house every night when the sun went down, with only candlelight to keep me company. It was a difficult, depressing week, and at the end of it, I “lost” it, and spent half a day sobbing. Thankfully, I have good friends who took care of me and helped me find my sanity again. And then, on the seventh day, there was light.
Close to the time our power came back, Library Guy disappeared. Again. I guess he couldn’t handle having me back in his life. Or maybe he thought at some point I’d want too much from him. Who knows. Do I miss him again? A little. Will I be ok? Absolutely. Hurricanes can wreak havoc and destruction, and this one certainly muddled my brain. But I’ve weathered worse storms, and hopefully the next time there’s a hurricane, I’ll have someone better by my side to help me through it—someone who will stay there with me even when it’s over.