The house didn’t belong to my grandmother, is how I imagined I would start to tell someone as I stood staring at the old, discolored wallpaper, at cracks in old plaster walls in this composite house in my dream, but that was the reason I was there. That it had belonged to my grandmother, whose house has long been sold and which, to my clinging, nostalgic sorrow, I won’t ever find myself in again. It was on an island, and we were, both the family who had been there and who was expected in a few days, going over it to make sure we had saved all those artifacts whose sense memory would link us to our pasts.
The island was very small, and the hurricane was sudden. The grey wall of the sea reared a mile high or more than a mile offshore, and I was sure we would be lost. The tide moved from the front to the back of the house that was not my grandmother’s house, as I have said, but was intended to be, even though it was a composite of many houses. Water rushed through the empty living room that the front door opened on, and out the back door of the empty kitchen. It was not my grandmother’s first story, it was my mother’s, but that’s not important. I finally thought to shutter the doors and went out back. The Japanese open air cafe under the house was in full swing. The weather was not good, the wall of water stood there as though built of bricks just offshore, but the Japanese were calm, taking their oddly flavored pizzas and drinks. I, too, became more comfortable with the impending doom that may or may not visit, and walked down to the line where the soil gave way to sandy beach to stand and watch the water standing up as though it thought it was a man.