"Looks like we dodged a bullet...It appears Bret will make landfall just south of Corpus Christi...Residents are still being advised to stay in their homes..." The words blared from the ongoing television news coverage and drifted into my subconscious as I dozed on the couch, spent from a morning preparing for a hurricane that would not come. My mother, who knew better than any newscaster and held more authority over her 17 year old, decided getting out to explore our drenched and windblown seaside community would be way more entertaining than vegging safely behind our storm shutters.
The palm-bark-littered streets that led us to the Bayfront were mercifully empty as we went to join the melee of meteorologists that had made the August Pilgrimage to the Gulf Coast in search of something newsworthy for the Weather Channel and the like. One free-lance photographer from San Antonio made his trip worthwhile when he stumbled upon a teenage girl doing her best Titanic re-enactment on the end of a small pier. I must have made an entertaining subject; it was hard to be King of the World when every wave and wind gust threatened to overthrow my one-hundred-pounds-soaking-wet frame, but photo after photo he snapped. Once I was sufficiently saturated with salt water, I made sure he spelled my name correctly and went home to desalinate.
Though I made a quick mental note to look for a copy of the Express-News the next day before I drifted off to dreamland (the sea air sure does take it out of you, never mind the tropical-storm-force winds), I had all but forgotten my adventures with the media circus by the next day. My attention was probably diverted by the good-fortune we had to get an extra day off from school despite the hurricane’s last minute turn that took us out of harm’s way. In any case, it was a complete surprise when my aunt called that evening to inform us that my storm-chasing shenanigans were on the front page of USA Today for all the world to see.
I’ll never know how much that photographer got from Associated Press, but I got a great conversation piece for my apartment.