It could have been so much worse.
I realize that by now that has become somewhat of a cliché in Houston, where most of us were spared the utter devastation that Hurricane Ike wreaked upon our neighbors in Galveston and other areas further south. I also realize that is small comfort to many of us who have to cope with damaged homes, financial woes, and, still in some cases, no electricity.
Perhaps it is too early to count our blessings while we mourn lost lives and lost homes, but perhaps it is precisely the right time for the more fortunate of us (myself among them) to take inventory of all that we have not lost.
I will always associate Hurricane Ike with something gained - a new and deepened admiration of the Studio Buddies.
The week after the storm, one of the most oft-repeated phrases used in conversations with my studio colleagues was, “I have the coolest buddies EVER.” They offered us shelter during the storm and after, and those that could gave us a place to have air conditioning, hot showers, full meals, and iced drinks. Those without power still found ways to be there for us, from calling us to offer assistance in what ways they could or taking us out to lunch or dinner once the restaurants were up and running.
For those of you who don’t know who these mysterious people are, the Studio Buddies are comprised of individuals and couples who dedicate a ridiculous amount of time and money to making our transition to Houston as studio artists a warm and welcoming experience. Their love for opera is surpassed only by their generosity and love for a great conversation over lots of delicious food, wine, and beer.
You’d think they would have cancelled the big welcome party which they were going to throw for us that week. Everyone would have understood, yes? Nope. They threw a party in true Buddies fashion complete with all the goodness I’ve mentioned above, and if they were dealing with their own troubles post-Ike, none of us would have known.
That’s not a definition of “neighbor” you’ll find on dictionary.com, but I can’t think of a better one.