At happy hour on Friday we played pool and talked and drank; the weather forecast was the furthest thing from our minds. None of us had any idea what the next few days would bring.
The media presented “Frankenstorm” coverage with its usual drama and flair, and I was somewhat conscious of the fact that I should cut the grass and clean up the lawn furniture prior to its arrival on Tuesday. I took my time heading out for my weekend long run (20 miles), and spent the rest of Saturday recovering from that. On Sunday I ventured out for some groceries and extra batteries, but the world had beat me to it, and there wasn’t a loaf of bread or a D battery anywhere to be found. I made do, and headed home for final preparations. I guess this was getting serious.
The entire area shut down on Monday and Tuesday in anticipation of the hit we were supposed to receive. The rains came, and the wind, but nothing terribly scary. Facebook and Twitter were sporting adrenaline-filled posts about the pending doom, people excitedly bragging in a way about being in the most vulnerable spot, sort of like boasting about snowfall predictions – “well, we’re supposed to get 2 FEET!” And we were all hyped up about this hurricane and anxiously wondering what sort of exciting post we would be able to write when all was said and done. You know exactly what I’m talking about.
And then, on Monday afternoon, our power went out at home. Just like that. Shit. I wasn’t ready. Maybe this was going to be serious, after all.
Blizzards come and go, and the road crews here in NJ are excellent – you can throw a party the next day and assume everyone will be able to make it. When disaster mode only lasts a day, it’s almost kinda fun. But if we lost power a whole day before Sandy was really supposed to hit, well… this was something. And I got very charged up.
Thankfully, power was restored before darkness fell, and I confess I was somewhat disappointed that the candles and flashlights weren’t required. I got over it, and when the storm hit with full force, I was grateful to have light, even if it was flickering and browning out.
The wind was so strong that our beds shook upstairs like we were having an earthquake. And the water in the toilet bowl wiggled and jiggled like the porcelain pot was possessed by demons. But the power stayed on, and no homes went flying into the sky in my neighborhood.
My son had done his research, and when he found out the storm was “merely” a Category 1 hurricane, he dismissed it almost completely. No shaking bed was going to scare him. And the dog seemed to settle in for the long haul, too; his normally nervous personality was subdued with a resignation to the loud noise and rattling house. So, our little family went to bed and slept soundly.
The next morning, the silence was deafening as they say. The morning brain-fog cleared, and I remembered the storm. I peeked outside. Some usual storm evidence, but nothing to post on Facebook about, really. I guess that was it. Humph.
But I was unprepared for my reaction over the next few days, as adrenaline was replaced with confusion and frustration and anxiety.
My company announced that my office location was closed “until further notice.” Holy hell.
The cellular networks buckled under the weight of all the texts and phone calls. But as the excitement of comparing stories began to wear off, I found myself eating too much stashed Halloween candy and feeling that electric anxiety that runs through me from time to time. I can’t stand not being at work. I hate being told to stay home and be safe when I want to be helping and fixing things somewhere with people I love and care about. I want to contribute. I pouted. I vented. I wanted to scream.
And then… our power went out again. This time it was for a whole day and night.
I crave social contact with my friends like I can’t breathe without it. When I realized I wasn’t just going to miss a couple of workouts with Coach, but there was no indication of when they would resume at all, I really lost it. I need my workouts. At least I can still run. And I did. And I will…
But the world is upside down. We relocated our computer equipment to another office so critical staff could work, but no one anticipated the 2-hour waits at gas stations to get gasoline, and many people just gave up and stayed home anyway. Phones and other electronics are draining batteries, and power is a precious commodity for some. Hot showers have become a luxury offered up by the fortunate to the needy. Cash machines aren’t working. Debit cards won’t go through. Bank deposits are missing, and accounts are overdrawn.
Finally, I brought out several of my favorite forgotten aromatherapy candles. I created a soft, beautiful, calming light in the darkness. Then I sat alone and decided to take my dog’s example and a friend’s advice and accept the situation. I give in. I do not have answers. I do not know when or if anything will go back to normal. I’m going to be home for awhile. And I found some peace in that moment.
Our power was restored this morning, and there is some guilt associated with that. So many of my friends are suffering through the cold and darkness. Travel is difficult to impossible for some. One of my co-workers drove her family to Boston to stay with a relative and work out of our office there because she’s still without electricity. And there are thousands of stories…
This has moved beyond an adrenaline-spiking day to a full-blown catastrophic event. I never thought I would ever live to see anything like this.