Yesterday, my family and I fled our home on the coastal plain of North Carolina. We made the decision on the spur of the moment, and if my son hadn’t started college this fall and I wanted so badly to be with him, we might not have made it. So I know why others stayed.
I’ve heard it over and over. From well-meaning people and authorities and news reporters. Why would you stay? Why would you risk your family’s lives that way?
Indulge me in a little story. It’s a different story than most that you’ll hear about evacuating, but to me, it gets to the heart of why it is so difficult to leave. It takes place after we’d spent days getting our house ready for the hurricane that we anxiously tracked day after day after day.
It takes place after we packed our most precious photo albums and possessions and what we’d need to survive a week away from home into the cars with two kids, two dogs, two cats and a bearded dragon and set off for the Airbnb we’d found that would allow our small farm to take up residence.
It takes place after we arrived safely and told our family and friends that all was well and walked the dogs and fed the cats and ate a frozen pizza at midnight, smiling because we knew we’d see my oldest son soon.
It takes place after I got ready for bed and as I reached into my bag for a charge cord for my phone and found the one I’d brought—and suddenly my world felt like it might just fall apart. A blue cord, that I’d bought because it matched my bedspread so well. It was usually plugged in by my nightstand. It didn’t belong here in this little house and I desperately wished that I’d left it at home.
And that’s when it hit me. Home really might not be there anymore. That charge cord might be all that was left of my bedroom decor. And yes, it’s a trite thing when compared to life and limb, but the nerve-wracking week of preparation and vacillating between staying and going, the exhausting drive to unfamiliar territory where all we can do is wait until we find out if and when we can return home all coalesced for a moment in that blue charge cord I held in my hand and I wished with all my heart that I could be back home.
We know we did the right thing. We heeded the mandatory evacuation order and left. We are not in danger of anything except being inconvenienced as we wait and worry about friends and possessions we left behind. We are together and that is what matters. But every time I look at that blue charge cord, I am homesick, and I know why those who stayed did so. It’s not about possessions or greed or foolishness. It’s about home.
They stayed because they needed to be with the world they knew.