Wanna add some extra drama to the final hang out of a sister about to move halfway across the country and a sister about to leave for another continent for Peace Corps? Introduce the most hyped up hurricane in years, add two separate two hour drives, a two bedroom house, two poodles, another sister, a father and a stepmother. Toss in some Apples to Apples, cocktails and stir. Pour into glasses, cut the electricity and enjoy!

This is how we rode out Hurricane Irene. Originally intended as a relaxing chill session in Richmond with Dad and Sally, the end result was way more memorable.

I arrived in Richmond from Alexandria around 6:30pm and they took me to their new favorite restaurant, Bacchus. Even though they were sold out of the foie gras I wanted to try, everything else was delicious. I hope they become the kind of regulars that Richmond seems to inspire.

The next day you called to tell us that the Megabus you were supposed to take down from D.C. was cancelling your ride due to the weather and you had no way of getting down to join us. Luckily, you were able to convince Wendy she should drive you down and we could all have a Byrd slumber party. Dad, Sally and I went for lunch at a great pho place that also has an extensive beer selection, Mekong, and then stocked up for your arrival at Target and Kroger. A misread text message led to a new family joke.
ME: “hey, can you get pom? I’ll pay you back.”
YOU: “Porn?”
ME: “Pom the juice you sicko.”
a minute later
WENDY: “hey can you get porn?”
ME: “already did. Family porn night!”
WENDY: “I love the Byrds.”

And with the POM I was able to make homemade grenadine, which really elevated our Hurricane cocktails to a new level. Or maybe it was the 4 oz. of rum per drink?

Hurricanes with real grenadine (in the center) and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies: supplies for a hurricane

Then we gathered around to play Apples to Apples after the electricity failed. Because this meant the AC also went out we opened the door and slid the glass panels of the screen door down so that a breeze passed through along with daylight. The trees whipped around and the rain poured but the gusts blowing through the house were so light that our cards were upset only once or twice. It made us a little cocky about the strength of the Level One Hurricane.

Later that night your friend Will came by and took you to a party that still had light, at least it did until you arrived. Wendy, Dad and I sat around in candlelight drinking beer and eating brie (doing our part to cut down on waste from a dead refrigerator!) and talking. How often do we get such opportunities? 
The next morning I woke up to the smell of bacon, the maple kind, and the sound of dad speaking softly in the kitchen while tidying. It reminded me of Saturday mornings when we were kids, and I lay in bed thinking about all the things that have changed and are about to change since I used to hear this sound on a regular basis. Wendy was asleep next to me, we had fallen asleep after whispering in the dark about love and relationships and how to have serious talks with boyfriends. I got up after a few minutes and took a shower. By the time I was out and dressed Will was there and you and he made challah bread french toast. This is my favorite picture right now.
Challah back girl!

After breakfast you and Will and me went for a walk with our cameras while Wendy joined Dad and Sally at the dog park. We couldn’t get into the park you wanted to take me to, but we did find some big trees that had been tossed around by the storm. We climbed them. This is my other favorite picture, my little sister about to go off to Botswana as (seemingly) fearless as she was here: