Sitting Tight, Giving Thanks
At around midday on Sunday afternoon the local streets suddenly swarm with people. What citywide announcement have I missed? Lines at each of the local stores – one with real world prices the other that specialises in over priced raw kale chips and the like – stretched down an entire aisle. I take whatever water is left from the almost empty shelves. A kind looking gentlemen hovers behind me eyeing up the last six pack. For a moment I consider taking it but politeness overrides survival instincts. This is the bit in the horror movie where the neighbours are still friendly and have not started eating each other. 55 minutes later it would be an entirely different picture.
I would like to say I didn’t fall into quiet panic as I joined a dozen locals at the ATM machine. Back home we count up how many of Junior’s feeds we have stashed away and I bolster myself up for a few days of eating canned tuna and rice cakes. Sunday night comes and goes. Rather uneventfully, thankfully. As we head into mid morning on Monday, husband escapes with Boy beneath the miserable grey clouds to get as much fresh air they can before the hurricane lands. I think I turf husband out actually, after he shouts “Dorothy! Dorothy!” for the sixth time. The afternoon edges in, blustery. By four o clock we are ensconced in our cave watching the ever darkening skies draw in heavy. Husband listens to the news on the computer with headphones – as far as Boy is concerned we are expecting a lot of rain. I have no desire to educate our deeply terrified of storms five-year-old on the behaviour of hurricanes.
I would like to say that I comforted the boys to bed with ease, effortlessly masking my own rational and irrational fears as the wind began to blow violently. Instead, as husband goes into the bedroom to take over, I begin manically flitting around the kitchen like a demented fly buzzing about a stranger’s living room bashing their body against a window trying to escape. The boys and I finally sit on the sofa to watch the sky flash turquoise in the heat lightning. The wind is howling now. The lights flicker a little and my stomach clenches. Some plywood falls into the street from the scaffolding across the road. Several cracks and thuds. Nevertheless, as we peek into the courtyard below, people walk their dogs, others smoke, and there is a handful of those ubiquitous people who take photos and videos precisely in moments like these.
On waking we discover extensive tree damage but thankfully no flooding or power cuts. We watch, aghast, the slew of images on the internet. A friend from London texts to ask if he can sleep on our sofa to escape the blackout in Greenwich Village. We take him out to dinner, only to find half the neighbourhood had the same idea. I suspect we’re all celebrating the fact we’re still here.
Watching the miniature Halloweeners the following day I send a quiet prayer of thanks and one to those struggling but a few miles away. Boy beams from beneath his skeleton make up dashing in and out of the stores and onto our friend’s party. The mood is warm, friendly. Joggers are out in force, dogs walk their owners. Clearly it takes far more than a hurricane to crush the verve of the true New York spirit.
Sara Alexander and her husband Cory English (formerly of Walworth NY) are actors, who met in the London acting community. They live in London, with their two children, but are currently living in New York, while Cory performs in the Broadway show “Chicago”.