It shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that yours truly was born in a hurricane. And I’ve spent the last 50 years, intentionally or otherwise, corroborating it wasn’t a mere coincidence. So it seemed appropriate to honor my 50th birthday with a quick history lesson.
The storm that would eventually become Hurricane Agnes made landfall in Florida sometime on June 19, 1972. After some slowing and a brief off-shore move, some weather historians were suspicious of her “quiet demeanor.” (Not sure anyone’s ever called me quiet…) But as Agnes began her assault on Pennsylvania, those suspicions were quickly confirmed. The storm, approximately 2,000 miles wide, caused over $2B in damage in 1972 dollars, or approximately $14B today. It was at the time the costliest hurricane on record. (I’m pretty sure my parents would say I was almost as expensive to raise). While Agnes had been downgraded by the time she hit the Philadelphia area, it wasn’t her winds that caused such wide-spread destruction. Agnes dumped 14 trillion gallons (or about 25 inches) of rain on areas of Pennsylvania, with the strongest rains happening on June 22nd, the day of my birth – and coincidentally 5 days after another major “Water” event which set into motion the resignation of a US president some 14 months later. While some southeastern PA areas were being ordered to evacuate, my mom was more than 24 hours into labor with a hospital staff willing to “wait it out” since it was safer than traversing the storm. I’m fairly sure my mom’s poor uterus was not consulted on that decision. Interestingly, I wasn’t the only thing born that day – it was a direct result of the storm’s devastation that FEMA was created. And just as Agnes – a Category 1 storm whose name was retired never to be used again- eventually moved off shore a few days later, the similarly dangerous Kat Deevers came home from the hospital. Talk about a baton pass!
Since that day I have wreaked my own kind of havoc. At 2, I “failed” swimming lessons when I insisted that the swim instructor put his head in the water. And at 4, despite having learned to swim (on my own I might add), I almost drowned at my own birthday pool party. I definitely gave myself a concussion around 6 after trying to climb a piece of unsecured furniture (it was the seventies, folks). I broke my wrist at 8 hopping over sidewalk cracks roller skating down my driveway because the incline alone apparently wasn’t challenging enough. At 12, I crashed a Go Kart full speed into a row of parked karts (thankfully empty except the eventual flames) and was permanently banned from the Wildwood boardwalk track. At 16, I told my parents the damage to my brand new Pulsar must have happened at the Wendy’s parking lot near my high school boyfriend’s house and not from (an attempt at) parallel parking at his grandparents’ house during which I hooked myself onto his grandfather’s car. And my destruction wasn’t merely domestic. The next year I caused a – ahem – different kind of damage in the south of Spain where I lived for about 8 weeks. A year after that, having graduated from my all girls’ college preparatory high school with a 3.95 GPA, I basically lost my academic scholarship after I managed to finish my freshman year with a 1.6. Apparently, you have to turn in more than 1 out of 10 Spanish assignments and not fall asleep during your English final if you’d like to at least pass. In my 20s and 30s, I managed to keep the heavy rains at a slightly less destructive level, at least according to my orthopedic surgeon! But the wind gusts continued: getting my law degree, starting and ending two marriages, almost losing my house, and bringing two equally Kategory 1 daughters into the world.
When I was in my early twenties, I had visions of the life I’d be living when I finally reached the half-century mark. I’d be married to my college sweetheart and would have one child already in college with one recent high school graduate headed there in the fall. I’d have been retained as general counsel for a large international corporation which would allow for frequent overseas travel where I’d utilize my foreign language proficiency to conduct business meetings for said company AND order food in restaurants abroad with reckless abandon. I’d own a comfortably-sized and well-appointed home with a pool and co-own a shore house with my parents (because I wasn’t entirely delusional).
Not unexpectedly, the universe had other plans for me. I currently work 12-hour days as a complex claims adjuster from the dining room of the 1,400 square-foot townhouse that I rent from my dad. I share the house’s only full bathroom with two tween girls who I had with my second ex-husband from whom I’ve been divorced for a decade. Every Sunday from Memorial to Labor Day, I drive 35 minutes to my uncle’s house to use his pool, and spend a week every August at the beach in a short-term rental with my parents and kids. I travel domestically, mostly for work, and use of my foreign language skills is limited to translating songs from Netflix Spanish teen telenovelas and routinely shocking my best friend’s daughter that I (still) speak Russian.
This past decade has undoubtedly been filled with some watershed moments: I left the practice of law; I amassed a social media following because – newsflash – boys like boobs (and discovered I’m a fairly decent photographer as a result); and I finally began sharing my writing publicly. Obviously there have been many other weather events that have helped shape the landscape of my life the last few years – friendships, relationships, a global pandemic, and pre-teen hormones to name a few. There were definitely some dark times, but on balance my 40s were pretty amazing and I’m incredibly grateful for the life I’ve lived thus far. And while I have no clue what the next decade has in store for me, I do know that the past 50 years have put me at the ready to weather any storm the skies send my way.