Before reading more, please know that this post is meant to be my personal experience with Hurricane Sandy and I am writing it in a humorous tone to go with the mood of my blog. I am very much aware of the devastation caused by this hurricane and this post is in no way meant to minimize that. I am truly grateful that all I lost during the storm was power and I mean absolutely no disrespect to others who were not as lucky.
The Saturday before the hurricane hit, my friends and I went out to celebrate an early Halloween. We all dressed up as sexy Santa Claus and went to a bar on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I drank a couple more Key Lime Pie Martinis than I should have. I had run over nine miles earlier that day and barely eaten anything for lunch and I am also sort of a lightweight. I tend to get buzzed before even finishing my first drink. While it usually takes me several more than one to get more than tipsy, I drank several more than one that night! When I woke up the next morning, I was feeling wretched. I skipped my usual Sunday morning spin class and had no desire or motivation to leave the (dis) comfort of my bed. My mother called and urged me to get to the grocery store sooner rather than later in order to stock up on food for the impending storm and said I could get back in bed after I was finished. Deciding she was right, I threw on a pair of cargo pants and a hoody and sans makeup headed to the supermarket. I was happy I did as it seemed everyone in my neighborhood’s mother gave them the same advice and there were already very long lines. Unfortunately, when one is hungover, one’s judgment with respect to what kind of food should be purchased is a bit lacking. Since I wasn’t very hungry, I didn’t buy much at all. And while I remembered to buy some canned foods in the event the power went out, I truly wasn’t expecting the storm to be as bad as it was and bought mostly yogurt, fruit and frozen meals.
When I woke up on Monday morning, I was surprised that it was barely raining. I texted my boss and said I almost felt guilty for missing work. He responded that if I felt that way, I should just go in. (The office was closed.) Since my boss is actually one of my best friends, I didn’t feel the slightest bad for responding, “fuck you” and heading back to my couch to resume my Fringe marathon. At about 8:30 on Monday night, while I was still watching television and pressing refresh on my Goodreads author page to see if anyone new had added A State of Jane to her bookshelf, the lights flickered for a second and then both my computer and television turned off as power blew in my entire neighborhood. (I later learned it was caused by an explosion.) The first thing I did was text my boyfriend Jason in Seattle to let him know. He texted back and told me to light some candles. After that, I texted a few more people to let them know and I started reading a book by flashlight. The wind was howling and I will admit to being pretty freaked out and afraid in the dark. I really wished my boyfriend was there. Or anyone for that matter! But mostly my boyfriend… I began receiving texts from many people asking if I was OK in the storm. I was surprised that some of these people were friends I hadn’t heard from in years. It made me feel very good that they thought of me and reached out to see how I was holding up. As the hours dragged on, I became afraid of depleting my phone of charge and so as much as I was reassured by the people texting me, I was also afraid to use my phone too much. It was suggested to me that I just go to sleep and hopefully the power would be back by the time I woke up. I tried but the wind was so overpoweringly loud and I was scared, not to mention a little annoyed at my boyfriend who hadn’t checked up on me since I told him my power had gone out over three hours earlier. He’s wonderful and I don’t mean to suggest otherwise but that night I was really frightened and when I got frightened, I get needy and when I get needy, I get pissed. So, I was pissed. I’ve since moved on…I woke up the next morning extremely disappointed to see that the power hadn’t come back on and then I heard voices outside of my apartment door. I opened the door to see several of my building staff holding flashlights and walking up and down the hallway to make sure we were all ok. When they said that the power wasn’t expected to be back for another 24-48 hours, I freaked out. My phone was already almost out of charge, I realized I hadn’t bought enough food and I was pretty lonely. A friend who lived close by texted to tell me she had power and I was welcome to come over to charge my phone and take a shower and I was thrilled until I packed my bag, headed to the door and realized that, oh shit, I live on the 18th floor. In order to get to my friend’s apartment, I would need to walk down 18 flights of stairs in the pitch black. And then walk back up them later. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized how afraid I am of the dark! I decided the only way I was going down those stairs was if I had a place to stay until the power came back on. I texted a few friends and asked if I could stay over. One said I was welcome but she was very sick and shivering on her couch. The other said I was also welcome but she reminded me that it might be difficult to find a cab. I didn’t want to walk down those stairs only to be stuck without a way to get to my friend’s apartment uptown. I began to cry. And then I decided to read and calm down. But I couldn’t calm down. I texted my boss who told me to turn my phone off and only check it every hour or so. He also suggested that I contact our mutual friend who recently moved close by to see if she had power. My boyfriend was also very attentive and checking in often. He suggested that I charge my phone with my computer. After I couldn’t find the right plug to do so, I completely lost it and called him crying. Looking back, it seems silly that I was so frantic but at the time, all I could think about was being trapped 18 flights up in the dark with no way to communicate with the outside world. I kept looking out my window in jealousy of the people walking down the street. I already suffer slightly from claustrophobia and I was in full panic mode. He managed to calm me down and after we hung up, I found a way to charge my phone using my computer. I also texted my friend Alisa as suggested by my boss to see if she had power. While I waited to hear back from her, I tried to fall asleep but couldn’t. I tried to read but couldn’t. All I could do was stare at my phone to see if it was charging. It was, but very, very slowly. I just prayed the phone would sufficiently charge before my computer lost power as well. And then I received a text from Alisa saying that she was ok. She offered to have me stay with her. Thrilled at the thought of escape from my apartment, I quickly summoned the courage to walk down the 18 flights by myself but not before texting Jason to see if he would talk me through it. Before I could chicken out, I headed down the stairs and was already on the 9th floor when Jason called and kept me company for the remaining trip. I was so happy when I got outside and breathed in the fresh air. When I saw my friend Alisa who offered to come and get me, I almost started crying tears of joy. We went straight to a bar close to her apartment that still had power and, OMG, that first beer tasted SO good. Alisa let me use her portable charger and I managed to multi-task drinking beer and texting some friends and family to let them know I had made it out of my building.
Flash forward several hours and I learned that my friend Shanna also did not have any power. Although I had assumed she had found a place to stay, when she told me otherwise, Alisa generously offered to let Shanna and her dog stay with her as well. Alisa lives in a typical NYC apartment (read: small) but she said that in times like these, we make it work. Honestly, her generosity astounded me. She kept saying she knew I would do the same had the roles been reversed but even though I knew she was right, I was so incredibly grateful. I still am.
The next few days were pretty uneventful. My office opened for business on Wednesday and since the building is in walking distance from Alisa’s apartment, I went to work for the rest of the week and continued to check in with friends and family to confirm they were ok. I hoped each day that the power would be back by the time the day was through but it wasn’t. As I had been without power, I didn’t know the full extent of the damage caused by the hurricane until we watched Rock Center with Brian Williams. That was an extremely humbling experience and I realized how lucky I was to have lost only power when so many other people lost their homes and even their lives. We made the best of things and, to be honest, I had a lot of fun. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a roommate and it was fun to have two girls to talk to every night after work. I hadn’t bonded with Alisa in years as she only recently moved back to NYC after living elsewhere so it was great to catch up. On Friday, it was announced that power was expected to be back up in all of NYC by 11pm on Saturday and so we were fairly certain our sleepover party was coming to an end. We decided to celebrate the end of the week at a local bar. At some point early in the evening, the news came on to announce that power was back up in the East Village and Lower East Side of Manhattan. We toasted to that. We discussed the pros and cons of the city cancelling the Marathon and we met some tourists – several from Canada and one from Denmark. While this was going on, a friend texted me the news that power was back in our neighborhood. As I was already loopy from several pints of cider and had no desire to end my evening cleaning out my refrigerator, I decided to stay one more night with Alisa, who was actually in no hurry for us to leave. Because Shanna had to walk her dog, she and I left the bar a little bit earlier than Alisa. We were snacking on pretzels when she came home holding up bags from Papaya King because she recalled me saying earlier that week that I had never eaten a corn dog! The three of us ate our corn dog and French fries and after laughing over the stupid words to Taylor Swift’s “We are never getting back together”, went to sleep. Shanna and I woke up the next morning to further confirmation that power had returned to our respective apartments and, after thanking Alisa profusely for her hospitality, I headed back home. Although cleaning out my refrigerator was not fun, it did not smell nearly as bad as I expected, probably because I live like a college kid in a grown woman’s body and barely had any food to spoil.
The power has now been back for almost two days and, aside from having to walk more blocks than usual to get coffee and restock on food, my life is returning back to normal. While Hurricane Sandy was merely an inconvenience for me and perhaps a built-in use to skip the gym and drink more than usual, I am all too aware that for others, life is far from normal and might never be. It is so sad how one night can change everything. While I vow to be more prepared next time, for example, stock up better for food, replenish batteries for flashlight, purchase portable external charger etc., I also vow to not take my blessings or my friends for granted. It can all be taken away so quickly.