The wind gusted and the trees shook. Far away, a man once said when big trees fall the earth trembles. He used it as a shitty excuse for a race riot, but standing in the forest in a windstorm, I think he undersold it.
The wind was gusting above one hundred and I realized that the situation was growing tense. I turned back but faced down stinging specks of dirt kicked up by the breeze.
I laughed bitterly as I trudged, leaning into the wind, fighting for every step, gritting my teeth. This is the second time I’ve fucked up like this. Once, years before, I was living in Taipei when a typhoon hit. Or not just a typhoon, it should be said, but a category five super typhoon. It was one of the most powerful typhoons of the first two decades of the 21st century, a real motherfucker of a storm. To make matters more serious it hit Taipei straight on.
Now I was staying at my girlfriend of the time’s apartment. Her apartment was nicer than mine, and she was worried about the typhoon. That and I figured if we were locked inside we’d drink a bunch of beer and fuck a couple of times. Seemed like the best way to pass the storm.
It went according to plan and we drank beer in our birthday suits to the sounds of the building going through a huge car wash. Some gusts sounded particularly strong, some a bit menacing, but it was a bit of a letdown. It was my first typhoon and I expected better.
As the night wore on she went to sleep and I stayed up watching youtube and keeping tabs on a weather site showing the giant swirling mass cruising slowly over the island. The mountains around Taipei caused the storm to slow down, and it took its sweet time to pass over us.
We’d run out of beer and I noticed that the sound of the wind had died down dramatically. I looked at the map and the eye was straight above me. The storm was moving slowly, and there was a convenience store just a block away. I figured that Taipei, in its incredible efficiency, would still have open convenience stores.
Like an Idiot, I threw on my coat and went out. The air pressure was unbelievably low, and the wind was gusting, but it seemed ok. I walked to the store, which was open, and grabbed a sixer. Feeling lucky and curious, I walked across the street to a park and sat down on a bench to watch the sky churning above. I hoped I could see up through the eye wall and see an enormous cloud atrium soaring up into the heavens. I couldn’t see shit honestly, just a cloudy sky and the intense swaying of trees.
After a beer, I headed for home and got the weather lesson of a lifetime. Somewhere I’d learned the backside of the eyewall was the most powerful part of a typhoon. That factoid had, however, been lost, and I sauntered home blissfully ignorant. I crossed a wide street and the eyewall hit. In what seemed like an instant the wind went from the low double digits in miles per hour to around 200. I was lifted off the ground and only regained my balance by sheer luck- never losing the beer in the process. I fought my way over to the next building, which fortunately was my girlfriend’s.
I went inside, drenched, and downed the beers shaking, glad to be alive and unhurt.
Back on the trail hemispheres away I trudged forward, muttering ‘not this shit again’ and feeling the conspicuous absence of beer in my hands.