“Some things happen fast, like rainstorms in November.” That’s the opening line to a poem I wrote in college. I was living in San Francisco at the time, duly impressed by skies that, without warning, could open up and let loose with a vengeance.
The clock tower in Hilo with the clock frozen at the moment on May 23, 1960, when a devastating tsunami struck. Del Norte Triplicate / Michele Thomas
An email arrived one morning not long ago inviting me to take advantage of a “special limited time offer.” Instead of deleting it, I read it again. Rick received the same message and read it too. At breakfast we discussed how frivolous and self-indulgent it would be to respond.
Some things happen fast. Three days later we paid our deposit and dug out our luggage. Soon we would board a ship in San Francisco for a 15-day round-trip cruise to Hawaii. And we’d be leaving right before the holiday. We were about to abandon our children and celebrate Thanksgiving at sea with strangers, without my pumpkin pies, homemade cranberry sauce and 3-year-old granddaughter.
It took courage to make the decision and more to break the news to the kids. They thought I was kidding. They thought it was a joke. They couldn’t believe it. For the last 35 years I’ve roasted the turkey, made my grandmother’s pork sausage stuffing, mashed 10 pounds of potatoes and melted marshmallows over yams. This year I was cruising, not cooking.
We left Crescent City the morning after the big storm began. At the airport we were rushed onto the plane and warned to prepare for a bumpy ride. Above the clouds the sky was blue, no turbulence. In San Francisco we walked around North Beach and Union Square without coats or umbrellas.