They're Only Things
They were old. So old in fact, that they knew exactly what was important in life and for them, it was being close to nature. They lived on our land, in a small house less than thirty yards from the shoreline. Most of the time they spent outdoors, and the little that they did own was stored in plastic tubs and metal trash cans under a large e-z up.
They lacked some basic luxuries such as electricity, flush toilets and hot water. But, they forgot about this, distracted by beautiful sunsets and the world’s best tropical weather. Hand in hand, they walked along the shore with no one else in sight or earshot for miles.
Every now and then, they would venture off to visit other islands and collect amenities and bask in a hot shower. This time they were on Maui. It was March 10, 2011.
At 2:30 in the morning I began collecting all the materials on my survival guide that was posted on our refrigerator, as I listened to the tsunami sirens while watching images of Japan’s devastation. I loaded the car until it bulged with pets, food and water, groggy children and enough batteries to last us two years. Then I woke up my reluctant husband who begrudgingly took the wheel and drove us up the mountain under a moonless sky.
We waited. An Oahu radio station kept us posted of the tsunami as it approached Kaui, Oahu, then Molokai. There was no real damage, we were assured by the radio mc. When daylight broke, we could see down the mountain. The ebb and flow of the tides that normally took six hours, now occurred every six minutes. The water went farther out than any minus tide ever took it and the entire fishpond emptied and filled like a toilet bowl.
We felt safe around eight am and lowered ourselves from the mountain, ready to crawl in bed and sleep. The radio station forgot to mention east Molokai. Our old diminutive and adored tenants had nothing left under the e-z up. The ground was washed clean of every movable object, from picnic tables to the kitchen sink. They all found their way, guided by a hydrodynamic force, each and every possession made its way into the mangrove forest. Even the wave found its final resting place on land, never returning to the sea, killing all plants, fruits and flowers as its final act.
The small house moved off its very foundation.
“They were just things” Lance said when we told him all of his worldly possessions were entangled in mangrove roots. We spent the better part of that weekend fishing out soggy literature and non-perishable foods, to spare them the physical labor. They returned home to find their life damaged and drying in the sun.