A Humble Account of Sandy

30 Oct

While the barrage of phone calls/text messages/emails from my friends makes me feel more loved than anything, it also reminds me that the nation is looking to New York City in this catastrophe. Those that aren’t here keep asking me what it’s like, what’s happening. While I’m blessed not to be in the thick of it or strongly affected, this is what it’s been like.

FRIDAY: For days, we have been hearing about a storm brewing that could possibly affect us, but this is the first time that I’m hearing the terms “Frankenstorm” and “Superstorm.” People are starting to get nervous, and it is just about the only thing people are talking about. Most people are making jokes in reference to Hurricane Irene (correction Tropical Storm Irene) that hit us last August. All the media hype amounted to about two hours of rain and winds that knocked leaves off of the trees in Central Park. No one was taking this year’s storm seriously, and absolutely no one was cancelling their Halloween weekend plans.

SATURDAY MORNING: The head doctor arrives at the clinic in the morning with bags of flashlights and batteries. My co-workers and I laugh at him, telling him he is over-reacting. He fights back that the storm is coming, and that we should all be prepared. The standard response is still “I’ll believe it when I see it.” He was in Morocco one year ago and didn’t experience the over-hype that was Irene. As he leaves for the day, he solemnly wishes me luck. I roll my eyes.

SATURDAY EVENING: I’m texting with a friend about what her last-minute Halloween costume should be. We come up with a brilliant idea that she should be the Hurricane itself. Hair all messed up, an inverted umbrella, a spray bottle to squirt people with water, and a poodle skirt to identify her as Sandy from “Grease.” We joke and laugh about this throughout the night on the town.

SATURDAY NIGHT: Bars are overflowing with drunken New Yorkers in skimpy costumes, no one speaks of the storm. I start to see reports on my phone that the subway system is going to be shut down. I start to feel a little nervous.

SUNDAY 10AM: I wake up in Murray Hill where I slept over at the boy’s apartment. Cuddled in his warm bed, the sky outside is dark, and it sounds windy. I can hear the noise of what sounds like an abandoned swingset, that metal creak of post-apocalyptic movies. Things start to feel foreboding, and I try to figure out in my head when I should plan on heading back to Queens. We spend the morning looking up news reports on his computer and listening to a Velvet Underground record. For an hour or two, the hurricane once again feels like a joke.

SUNDAY 1PM: We finally make our way across the street to buy bagels and coffee before the Jets game. The lines are around the corner out of every store. We make jokes about our last meal.

SUNDAY 2PM: While watching the Jets game, his roommates start showing up with cases of water and forties of Bud Light.
“Maybe we should get some pasta or something?” one of them says.
“Make sure you get some solo cups for beer pong.”
“Do we have flashlights?”
“I think I need to head back to Queens,” I tell the boy.
I still only have my Halloween costume, so I borrow a flannel shirt from him, and head home. Among the raincoats and rainboots, I’m wearing two inch heels, short shorts, a flannel shirt and a trench coat while carrying a large foam M&M suit. The most epic walk of shame of my life. Correction: Stride of pride.

SUNDAY EVENING: Back in my Elmhurst and changed into jeans and chucks, I decide to stock up on some supplies myself. I prepare thusly:

  • two very large bottles of water
  • a box of cheez-its
  • a flashlight
  • two candles
  • generic breakfast bars
  • pasta
  • a People magazine
  • a liter of Diet Ginger Ale…because I already have the whiskey

SUNDAY NIGHT: I reassure my mom over the phone that I’m in the safest neighborhood possible and that, yes, I bought bottled water. I watch the New York Giants edge out the Dallas Cowboys while consoling the boy over the phone about the tragic New York Jets loss. I watch the San Francisco Giants win the World Series with the mildest of interest, as I mildly dislike the Tigers. I look out the window to see no rain, although there is a light breeze.

MONDAY DAY: In the morning, still no rain, not even very windy. Cabin fever sets in early. Texts start pouring in from worried friends. I watch “Breaking Bad”, “Ru Paul’s Drag Race”, “American Horror Story,” and read a bunch of pointless articles on the Internet. I check facebook every 20 minutes, to see my New York friends are pretty much all fine and drinking either wine or whiskey.

MONDAY EVENING: Winds start to sound fierce outside my window, and I start to feel nervous. I keep my blinds shut in case the windows blow in, which sounds completely possible. It sounds so strong, that I imagine cows swirling past my window a la “Wizard of Oz” although what a cow would be doing in Queens, I can’t tell you. I live close to a hospital and the ambulance sirens have been going for hours, back and forth, up and down.

MONDAY 9PM: I haven’t been watching the news, so I finally start browsing photos on CNN, checking live blogs. I see my friends posting about the transformer exploding on 14th street, the fires in North Queens, the extreme flooding in Brooklyn, the blackout in Manhattan, the failed generator at NYU Langone Medical Center. I start to feel blessed and extremely lucky to live where I do. I send out texts to the people I care about in those areas to make sure they’re okay.

TUESDAY MORNING: I awake to a flood of text messages from worried family and friends. I reassure them that I’m okay. I turn on the news and stare jaw agape at the destruction around my city.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: My roommate and I dare to go out in our neighborhood. We walk the 15 minutes to a 24-hour diner. Along the way, we see leaves strewn and one fallen down tree. The streets are crowded with people trying to get fresh air. The diner is also crowded. But my roommate and I bond a bit over cups of coffee, greasy diner food, stories of boys and hurricane updates we’ve read. We browse the dollar store. We buy Uno.

TUEDSAY EVENING: I figure out that walking to work tomorrow will take me two hours and debate whether I should or not. I sign up for a volunteer list serve. I sit down, bored, to write this, which if you’ve made it this far, you must be equally bored. C’mon over! We have plenty of whiskey, and that rousing game of Uno is about to start.


2 Responses to “A Humble Account of Sandy”

  1. Brett October 30, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    Thanks for the recap, Congrats on the walk Sunday afternoon.

  2. wiseone October 30, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    The Travolta clip is a nice touch. Glad you survived Sandy.

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