Last Thursday, on the 25th, before Sandy the sorceress materialized in our lives, I flew down to Destin, Florida for a childhood girlfriend's wedding. It began like this:
Nothing at all to complain about, right? It was like Spring Break 2000 all over again--good friends all staying together in an immaculate house on the beach. Bloody Mary mornings followed by sunshine and topped off with wine-heavy evenings and brisk night-swims, just for good measure.
The wedding itself-much like the bride, herself-was gorgeous, but also not obnoxiously- overdone, too frilly, or pompous. It was refreshing, really. Burlap, white, and purple. The wedding was a representation of this couple- much like weddings, in general, should be, right?
Picture this-Sicily, 1923--
No, no. I've been watching too many of my Golden Girls dvds. Let's try that whole thing again.
Saturday, the 27th in the panhandle of Florida--
Meanwhile, the storm was brewing here at home in New York. I had caught wind (yes, this is a weather-related joke) of the predictions that were being made. My flight, the following day, would be cancelled. Delta airlines couldn't really re-book me, considering no one truly knew exactly what the storm would bring and the extent of its damage. I was simply told "to keep calling back," but considering their phone lines' wait times were averaging between 5 and 6 hours, even this proved difficult. I had no idea when or how I would be arriving back to New York...much less, what I would be arriving home to.
The panhandle must have been receiving an offshoot of Sandy's reach, and the temperatures plummeted to around fifty degrees. So, I wasn't exactly lounging on the beach with a bottle of Hawaiian Tropic and a strawberry daiquiri beside me. On Monday, though, as Sandy slowly made her way into the northeastern territory, I was doing this:
Yes, I was representing the BK with my trusty "Song of Brooklyn" book. It's a fascinating read, by the way, if you're interested at all in the history of, culture of, and spirit of Brooklyn, which they hail as "America's Favorite Borough." I'm inclined to agree with the writers and contributors.
I indulged in my good read, local Floridian oysters and some hot tea, while sitting on the dock of the bay. Otis would have approved.
...While I battled some mild winds, frustration, and unanswered questions regarding ever actually arriving back in New York, Sandy swooped in at home, like a bat out of hell.
The waterfront of Williamsburg, along the East River...
Where I stood in Florida.
Although people continued to tell me that I was lucky for not being present in New York during Sandy and her rage, I wasn't quite so sure. I wasn't exactly sharing that sentiment. I wanted to be home. Home with my dogs, my belongings, and witnessing all of that which was occurring all around us.
My aunt and uncle, who just built a new house down in Florida on an incredible golf course, opened their home to me, since it became apparent that I would be running up an entirely ridiculous hotel room bill, making myself at home in solidarity at the La Quinta Inn for a few days. I camped out there with Aunt and Uncle B, graciously reveling in my aunt's hospitality, and I waited...and waited. I hungrily soaked up too many devastating news reports that showed and re-showed horrific photos and heart-breaking video clips of Sandy victims.
Fortunately, here in Williamsburg, the damage was minimal. We have little to moan about. My roommate took incredible care of our dogs, and we never even lost power. Neighbors have claimed that Sandy, from our point of view here in the 'Burg, was simply "a bad thunderstorm with heavy winds." To imagine that, after viewing some of those broadcasts and hearing friends' grim updates, I soon realized that others had a much different experience with Sandy. Many of my friends and family, in fact, who reside from Manhattan to Long Island experienced an entirely different storm. Sandy's effects have had a ripple effect, though.
I flew in on Thursday night, on one of the first flights into Laguardia, which was a bit frightening, considering that just the previous day, I was viewing water-laden runways and waterfalls pouring out of baggage claim carousels. It's miraculous what the New York spirit and a little manpower can achieve.
As ConEdison is restoring power and subways are beginning to run again, people seem to be settling back into their normal daily routines. On the surface, the necessities are returning, and we're all emerging from our hideouts, observing everything around us curiously. All is not normal, though. Not for so many of us. Too many of us. Even today, as Blanche and I took our morning neighborhood walk, I viewed lines of cars that stretched over two miles, bumper-to-bumper, awaiting the elusive holy grail of gasoline.
There's a lot to be done- There's a lot that can be done. We have yet one more chance to help another out again. The resilience of this city is unlike anything I have ever seen. Strangers become friends during these times. We're all neighbors. It doesn't matter who you are, what you look like, or where you're really from--you're a New Yorker, when crisis arises. We'll figure it out. We'll push through. We'll help each other out until we can stand alone again and curse those slow-moving tourists on our sidewalks.
If I can make it there,
I'll make it anywhere
It's up to you, New York
My ears perk up, and I feel this overwhelming sense of comfort and pride. There must be something in the water. Now that I think of it, it was amazingly odd the first time I tried to pour myself a glass of water in my first apartment there on North 7th street. It all bubbles from the bottom up in the glass, and you have to wait for the fizzing to cease before you can slurp it down. That carbonation-like effect is the sense of belonging that
feeds you. If you take a moment to take it all in, life tastes pretty damn good
here. Kerouac got in when he wrote, “ New York gets god-awful cold in the winter but there's a feeling of
wacky comradeship somewhere in some streets." This comradeship has
always lived and continues to live in New York --in every neighborhood, in every borough, in
every street, in every apartment building, and in almost every person living and breathing there. It’s all in the
eyes. Something behind them that pierces through the pupils and shines, like a
starry backdrop, through them. I saw this, and when you do, you never really
want to go home. New
You already are.
You already are.