First I hope that all my East coast followers made it through the storm safely, or at least are in a safe place with power, heat, and food. Events like this certainly put things into perspective. Your health, and the well being those you love are first and foremost. Right now we all have to take a deep breath, and find our centers, though shaken they are still there. Now we must conjure the strength to regroup and be about the business of rebuilding and finding our way through this. As New Yorkers we know how to do this. 9/11 was devastating; the loss of life was indeed our greatest loss forget real estate, businesses or revenue. In the aftermath of that horrific event I have never been so proud to be a transplanted New Yorker, the compassion, patience, generosity, and humanity that we showed one another was immeasurable, and will not be forgotten, I have no doubt that this will once again rise and we will make it through this.
I live in what I have started to call The Tank of Manhattan, (Harlem in the center of the Island) When Irene hit we got little more than heavy rains, with Sandy, I barely saw rain or wind, never lost power, and was dumfounded at the images of lower Manhattan as they came in. There I sat cooped up in my apartment ready for the worst, bathtub filled, candles and flashlights at the ready, and a fridge and snack shelf burgeoning, and all I did was wait. Sandy, like the 10th plague cast upon pharaoh, past by my door. Personally, I was blessed.
But as is my nature, I would be remiss if I did not bring you the humor in this sad tale. Since I was on mandatory lock down flipping between CNN and Bravo (come on have you seen the Real Housewives of Atlanta: Hairdressers tell all?) I have been on a boredom, and stress eating snack rage. In the first hours of waiting for Sandy to make landfall I had to crack a bottle of vino (well that goes without saying) but where I really did damage was in my choice of comfort snacks…This is where I went awry….
Now because I was (like many) in a bit of denial about the severity of this storm, I did not do my normal shopping, which takes place all over the island of Manhattan: Trader Joe’s wine shop (Union Square) Trader Joes on 72nd, or Whole Foods at Columbus Circle. So when the deadline for the subway shut down happened I was left to the resources in my neighborhood. Now you Harlemites know what that can mean. Well I got Uptown from a rehearsal, and the supermarkets were overrun! Luckily I am a girl with a pantry and I love Costco so I technically had enough supplies, but there is something about a disaster that makes you want to buy more shit. However I did need candles and snacks! I usually opt for some healthier choices from Trader Joes and I love some old school popped popcorn, however these items were out of stock in my house. So I was left to what my local bodegas and dollar stores had in stock, and you know what that means…
Pre Sandy I found myself munching on a bag of cheese puffs (yes I said cheese puffs—I’m not proud, of it but I am coming clean) but wait, I mixed them with pretzels… so goooood, so baaaad. So that was the first night. In the wake of the storm and the reality that life was forever changed here (for a while), there would be no going to work, there would be no trip to Philly to teach at UArts (holla) and back the same after noon to teach a pointe class at Ailey. There would be no nothin’, just me, my dog Chou Chou, the Internet, cable and my snacks. With nowhere to go, I wore a path between my desk, my couch, and my fridge. I could feel the bloat creep up like the water over the FDR. You know that “Bathing Optional” status that is instituted when you are home alone, and not going anywhere, and you will not be seen, oh that was in full effect! (At leas I had water…) I was a stir-crazy mess.
The one shining light was that I had taken the day before the storm to clean my apartment, my thought being “If I’m going to have to be in here with myself for God knows how long, I should feel good about where I am.” Depression flourishes in dirt! So that was a good thing. I didn’t get much “work” done because I was really sort of paralyzed with the unknown that was Sandy, I was glued to CNN and other news outlets trying to get my head around what was happening…I’m still working on that, I think we all are.
On Wednesday my bestie, April finally made it to my house; she lives in Lower Manhattan and was without power, or water. She was a hot mess rolling up in here. After dragging a bag down 14 flights of stairs, she was lucky enough to get a ride to my house, but fought through gridlock traffic to do so. I jokingly said that she was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And in a way, although I was joking I realized that in truth she was, as all of us here on this Coast are. People are homeless, without power, food, water, transportation, and work. We are in a bizarre state of stasis, in the middle of our lives knowing that at some point we will re-enter but we have no idea when, and what our worlds will look like in the aftermath. Even those who have not suffered direct personal loss or displacement we are affected. Many have lost wages, or may not have jobs to go back to, the loss of a vehicle could mean a game change to some people’s livelihoods… we all energetically carrying this tragedy. I had the same feeling after 9/11. There was always less than 2 degrees of separation between you and “it”. If you did not personally lose someone, there was at least one person you knew who did, or lost a portion of their lives that fateful day.
Here on the East Coast, our landscape has once again, in one fell swoop, been altered, swept out to sea, submerged, blown away, erased…We can no longer take for granted that our favorite restaurant, or boutique in The Village or the Lower East Side might be there when the smoke- or rather the water clears. When we can all move about freely, there will for months, even years be those moments when we are walking and stumble upon a place of what used to be and think “Remember when that was…?” or “Wasn’t that the…?” Whatever it was might well be gone, but surely something else will have sprung up in its place. Like the Dove returning with the Olive Leaf, life will spring forth again….