Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Serious Storm

It would feel strange to blog about anything other than the hurricane this week. Yesterday started off like an adventure. I went outside to a few grocery stores with my boyfriend and sister (who was supposed to move into her East Village apartment yesterday and obviously didn’t), and we bought brownies and some food essentials. We went home and begrudgingly filled some water bottles in the fridge, not really thinking we’d need it. I didn’t even bother to look for batteries or a flashlight. Luckily, my sister came prepared with a lantern. She's the older, more prepared one anyway. I can be stubborn and stupidly optimistic sometimes. It can’t be that bad, right?

As the hours passed and we spent minutes upon minutes watching the lone tree in my “yard” bash against my building, wondering when it would snap, I became slightly nervous. Friends began to lose power across the NYC area and CT. My family lost half of a pine tree that’s Rockefeller Christmas tree sized in my backyard, crushing a maple tree and sparing our house. Then, they lost power.

The photos online are crazy. It’s surreal to think that this is my city. I never thought anything this bad would happen. Subways and tunnels completely flooding? Nah, this is NYC. Nothing that crazy could happen. A tree or two might fall, but that’s about it. What? You say the side of a building peeled off? Jesus.
 Everyone I know and care for is safe, but some are stranded and may be without power for a while. I kept saying last night, “It’s like we live in Florida. It’s like we live in Florida.” Growing up, I can’t remember ANY hurricanes hitting. An occasional tropical storm would pass through, a hurricane would come close, but then get degraded to a lesser storm.

I keep thinking of the end of that Coen Brothers’ movie, “A Serious Man.” I wasn’t a big fan of the movie initially, maybe because I fully couldn’t grasp it, maybe I just wasn’t in a good movie watching mood then. Maybe I didn't want to like it because it was my boyfriend's favorite movie of the year and I like to tease him and be a dissenter. I don’t remember a lot of the movie, but the ending stuck with me. It seemed to come out of nowhere and bothered me. The school children running into a building, trying to escape a tornado that seemed to come out of nowhere, the iPod earbud dangling from the boy's ear with the storm quickly approaching, and then black out to credits. Do they live? Does any of what we just saw in the film matter? Well, yes, but it's over now.

I keep thinking of this film because throughout the day yesterday, I kept worrying about different things—I should’ve gone running today, I’m bored, I should be doing something for my career, I should do this, I want to do that. I was stuck in my head rather than preparing or thinking of what the news was telling me. The human instinct to survive, I think, distracts us with our lives, lulls us into comfort and convinces us everything will be fine. FDR's classic quote, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself” is certainly true.

My area of NYC is fine. I have power and everything is okay here, but people have died. It could’ve been much worse for me or a loved one. A tree could’ve landed on my head when I went to get those oh so essential brownies. The last movie I could’ve watched might have been a crappy chick flick while worrying about whether or not the marathon will still happen. I’m not saying I should’ve run around panicked. What I am saying is that events sneak up on us and we can never stop being human.

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