Perhaps you remember Hurricane Irene, who stumbled into the Northeast in late August, kind of like a belligerent drunken relative at a Labor Day picnic. Or perhaps you don’t recall Irene, who turned out to be all show and no substance in the Delaware County area near Swat.
Here’s where I’m headed with this: Right around the start of the semester, the news cycle was hyperventilating about incoming Hurricane Irene. So I shut my dorm windows and snagged a few extra juice boxes, praying my megaton Norton Anthology of English Poetry wouldn’t fly away in the storm. But besides some heavy rain and a few symbolic fallen branches, the Swarthmore campus wasn’t significantly scarred by Irene’s forecasted temper-tantrum.
I had assumed Irene was as daintily behaved everywhere, but back home in CT they’re still clamoring about the storm in October. In fact, there are still some tattered FEMA and Red Cross flyers swaying from storefronts. Folks lost power for up to a week and the local school district has already canceled a February break to compensate for “storm days.” My dad works for a major New England power company, making for some serious overtime. The house is currently littered with various promotional T-Shirts that read “Storm Crew” or “I survived Irene”. My family was offended when I chuckled about Irene being overblown.
Students often comment that Swarthmore is a “Bubble”. It has it’s own alternative character. People are generally friendlier, more jovial and chatty. The Bubble might mean we’re a once-removed from the pressing demands of reality, with the privilege of thinking about modern art or Greek rather than, say, when the power will come back on. Maybe we’re a bit sheltered in our academic haven, but I have a silly theory that the Bubble offered some sort of atmospheric protection against Irene’s invasion. I’m not a meteorologist, but this is my hypothesis.
In short, I’m glad to be occupying a happy, hurricane-free zone for four years, as much as I enjoy free T-shirts.