That seems like a lifetime.
It seems like just yesterday.
But six months ago today, I was on my way to Green Hills with two friends in the middle of a rain storm to see Tim Gunn from “Project Runway” emcee a fashion show. I was wearing the same boots I’m wearing today. It was May 1 and summer seemed just around the corner. Tim Gunn, lunch at Panera, a Saturday afternoon at home. Seemed like a good plan, and it was a really fun morning.
But then, everything gets a little blurry for me. We drove home through streets that were beginning to pool with water. Homes that sat in lower areas in the Green Hills area were already beginning to take on water. Massive trees were toppling over, some of them onto homes because the ground was so saturated it could no longer support the roots or weight of the trees.
On Nolensville Road water was across the road. It looked like a lake with lapping waves when we drove up. And we drove through it, not knowing what else to do. The water skimmed the bottom of my car. That was when it began to click that something bad was happening.
It truly clicked when I watched a portable school building float down Interstate 24 (not far from my house, btw), smashing into the cars people had abandoned on the interstate amid the rising water, and saw it disintegrate. There came word that the Harpeth was flooding. Mill Creek was out of its banks. The Cumberland wouldn’t reach its crest until a few days later. The Grand Ole Opry was under water. Guests at the Opryland Hotel had to be evacuated on that Sunday night.
Today, of course, is exactly six months since the May 1 and 2 floods that rocked my city. And it seems faraway and very recent.
It’s faraway, because for the most part, life is back to normal. The Opry reopened a few weeks ago. The hotel will open November 15. The symphony hall is planning a star-studded New Year’s Eve opening. Peoples’ homes have been repaired and life appears to be going on as normal.
Well, the new normal, I guess.
Because we now realize that sometimes, bad things just happen. That rivers rise and houses aren’t made to last forever. That stuff is just stuff. That we should hold everything we have loosely because it can be taken in an instant and we’re not guaranteed tomorrow. That love and service are more lasting gifts than lip service and trinkets.
I’ll never forget the joy I felt that Sunday afternoon when the rain stopped and the sun peeked through.
I’ll never forget the joy I felt when the story of Nashville’s flood became a story of loving your neighbor as yourself rather than destruction and looting.
I pray that is a story we’re still writing.
Thoughts from those days in May:
• One week