Mother Nature cleared her throat this week and shut down several roads leading to our life here in sunny (once again) Malibu. My wife and I apparently collect natural disasters, starting with Arkansas tornadoes and ice storms, continuing with Gulf Coast floods and hurricanes, and now that we’ve hit the jackpot, California drought, earthquakes, wildfires, and mudslides. We just need a blizzard, tsunami, and volcano to complete the set. Stockpiling seashells sounds significantly safer (sweet sentence!), but since an ice storm played a major role in the early days of our relationship, I guess the disaster collection is appropriate.
Jody and I met on New Year’s Day 1994 at a high school basketball tournament in Jonesboro, Arkansas. I was there as a high school basketball coach, and she was there, according to her own rendition, in part to meet me. You can picture me there at a guardrail in the arena, standing by myself, watching basketball, unsuspecting, when this beautiful young woman innocently (ha!) walks up to introduce herself. I never knew what hit me that night, but it turned out to be love.
I didn’t have much of a chance according to the Vegas oddsmakers given my dating record yet somehow didn’t mess things up right away. We talked through several basketball games that night, followed by a trip to Steak ‘n Shake since we weren’t particularly ready to stop the conversation. We subsequently went on a date or two in January and could sense that something special was in the works. And then came the infamous ice storm of 1994, a disaster that The Weather Channel ranked as #2 in their list of the “Nation’s Worst Ice Storms.”
Best. Disaster. Ever.
Classes at my school were canceled for what seemed like forever. Jody’s work was not canceled, but since she lived about a forty-five minute drive away on super treacherous roads, she stayed close by at a friend’s apartment throughout the ice storm. Over the course of that week or two we had the equivalent of a year or so of dating. At least that’s what we tell ourselves since we were engaged a month later and married by May.
Jody and I have seen a natural disaster or two along the way, and living in California we can count on encountering more. But we’ve also seen some pretty amazing things emerge “naturally” from both natural and unnatural disasters, and the past twenty-three years of my life is the best evidence of all.