Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween on the Eastern Seaboard, 2012

Monday morning, I felt like pancakes. As I whipped up the batter, I felt something warm and smelled something funny. It’s that damn hurricane, I thought, turning around to look out the window. It’s coming for me already and it’s not even supposed to hit till primetime. When I turned back and saw the smoke billowing above and beyond the bowl, the truth didn’t set me free – it hurt my hand. I was holding a Category 3 electric mixer.

That hurricane, the real one, later did a number on the lower end of Manhattan. I live on the upper end.
When the storm picked up speed, with the sounds of sirens in the distance, my lights kept flickering but they never went out. I was positive the wind gusts and heavy objects slamming against my rental-property windows would break them. Today, those windows seem stronger than they’d been the day before the surge. 
I know how it feels to struggle through acute hardship while you’re surrounded by people whose lives haven’t been upended by the misfortune that’s struck you. It’s a strange feeling to be surrounded by others’ acute hardship when you’re one of the people who’s been spared.

I’m not viewing photos and videos of a disaster zone in a land far, far away. My downtown (neighborhoods I’ve grown to love) has been drowned and darkened, while I’ve been staycationing uptown, baking loaves of banana bread and booking holiday-travel flights.

I didn’t live in NYC on 9/11. Although these are obviously two profoundly different types of tragedies, I now have a slightly better understanding of the emotional toll that first one took on the locals and the energy that ensued. If anyone most engagingly represents this strain of energy, it’s the trick-or-treaters – the ones dressed as heroines, the ones dressed as villains - I ran into outside tonight. The exuberance of their masses is as critical as it is contagious.


  1. I, too, have felt strange being a person leading a regular life, complete with electricity and clean water, while so many people are suffering. There are still a few friends I cannot reach, people on Staten Island and in Greenwich Village, to ascertain their safety. (One lives on the fourth floor of a walk-up, and at present she is on crutches.)Not a pretty picture. Yet I take comfort--and, yes, pride--in the thought that in New York City, especially, we residents have survived so much over the last forty-five years, from blackouts, to garbage strikes (my nose still remembers that one!), to 9/11 terrorism, to Hurricane Sandy. Blessings on all of us--New York City dwellers, residents of New Jersey, people in upstate New York, citizens of Connecticut. We grit our teeth and keep moving forward.

  2. Again, glad you are doing well. It is the resilience of the American people that carries us through disasters or events such as the ones you have mentioned. We must carry on and help those that are going through difficult times, while remembering that this too shall pass.

  3. That's the thing we tend to forget or dismiss - that we are all linked. Like it or not. And if we ever doubted it, we'd only have to "feel" the energy outside. We are inevitably and inescapably affected by those around us, whether we recognise that or not.

    I'm happy you're OK.