By Evelyn David
When Hurricane Sandy had finally abated and we could safely explore the neighborhood, it quickly became apparent that we were in big trouble. On the street behind us, three utility poles had toppled and splintered like matchsticks, blocking driveways, with dozens of broken wires strewn across the tarmac like confetti after a victory parade. Oddly, or not so oddly, I was pretty sure that we weren't on the same electric grid as our neighbors behind us. In the past, we would lose power while they still had theirs or vice versa. But the devastation of the storm and specifically the damage on this street, meant that they had turned off the power for blocks around.
So the minutes stretched into hours, the hours into days.
It didn't help that the cold that had been teasing at my throat turned into a full-blown sneeze fest accompanied by hacking cough. Yeah, it wasn't pretty.
But of course, I knew that so many had it worse. When all was said and done, I still had my house. Sadly, far too many faced crushing property losses. There were storm deaths that were heartbreaking.
We stuck it out for four cold days, and even colder nights. The saving grace was that we never lost hot water, so showers were cleansing and restorative, literally and figuratively. And the sense of community and fellowship with neighbors reminded me again of why I love our little village.
Still, by the time Friday arrived, my husband had convinced me that we should take Clio, our aged dog, and spend the weekend at our son's apartment in the city. He would bunk with friends. We hoped that Clio would qualify as the third passenger required by the Mayor in order to drive a car into the city. Hubby dropped me off at the entrance of the apartment building with a host of suitcases – one of which was devoted to the dog's needs. He would park the car, take the dog for a quick walk so she could do her business, and then we'd head out for dinner.
Son and friends met me, grabbed several of the bags, and then suggested that we skip the slow elevator and walk up to his apartment – on the sixth floor. Not wanting to appear old and feeble, despite the fact that I hadn't taken a breath without a coughing paroxysm, I hoisted one of the bags and gamely headed up the stairs. Let me be honest. Around the third flight, I considered sitting down and declaring "Save Yourselves. Leave me here." But I'd rather eat dirt that admit defeat, so I put on my game face of "Isn't this fun!" and followed the crew to the sixth floor. I flung myself on the couch and tried to pretend that I was fascinated by the political discussion that was going on around me. The truth, however, was that I was trying to figure out where my next breath was coming from, and didn't care how Obama and Romney stood in the polls.
Soon hubby and Clio joined us. The furry one looked confused. Is this a vet's office? Am I getting a shot? She's never been one to relax and enjoy the ride in a car. She isn't a canine who hangs her head out the window, ears flying behind her. Cars mean veterinarians and that can only mean trouble, no matter how many treats they offer you to try and make it up later. But since no one attempted to weigh her, take her temp, or hoist her up onto a stainless steel table, Clio finally settled down, firmly attached to hubby's leg, ears on alert.
Now the next part of the evening was a disaster. I know I shouldn't toss around that term because believe me I know that a lukewarm, tasteless meal does not qualify as a tragedy. I had enough perspective to understand that there were those for whom any meal would be a welcome relief. But I'm just trying to explain why my mood was going South faster than Clio going after that darn squirrel who keeps taunting her by touching down in our yard.
Anyway, we left a wary Clio on the blankets we'd brought for her and headed out into the Big Apple. Our kids had given us recommendations for local eateries and we then proceeded to spend the next 40 minutes criss-crossing the Avenues (the long blocks) and the Streets (the short ones) to find someplace that would accommodate two hungry, one hacking, people for a Friday night meal. Apparently all the hip 20-somethings who live in the lower part of
had decided to move uptown for their dinners that night – so every restaurant
save Subway said it would be at least an hour wait. We stumbled into a place
where we had previously had brunch and miraculously they could seat us.
Again, not a tragedy of epic proportions, but if ever I thought a glass of wine
was appropriate and needed, this was it. But you don't order a Chablis at
McDonald's – and while this restaurant was a step up from a fast-food joint,
the rule remained. I won't bore you with the details, but mediocre food and
almost non-existent service, is tossing around a compliment where none is
But okay, we can go with the flow, especially if we're talking the bodily fluids spewing from my nose (is that too much information?). Anyway, we head back to the apartment. This time I'm with someone sane, e.g., hubby, who was prepared to wait for days for the elevator because he had nothing to prove by taking the stairs.
Now here was the plan. I would get into my PJs, take some kind of cold medication, read a little, and tumble over the cliff into sleep in a nice warm apartment. In the meantime, hubby would take Clio for a last walk, and he would join me in dreamland.
Here's what happened. He walked and he walked and he walked – and Clio did nothing, zero, but shake. She's an old dog. Her bladder is still pretty good, but she is always willing to mark her territory, except on this night in the Big Apple, she was too terrified by the noise, strange dogs, strange people, traffic, who knows, but after an hour, hubby returned defeated. So at 11 PM, I put clothes on over my pajamas, packed up all the stuff, and we got back in the car to return to a cold, dark house, but with a backyard that said, "Welcome Home Clio." She promptly popped out of the backseat and moved around the yard anointing every bush and leaf. I think she offered to have tea with her nemesis, the grey squirrel.
It was two more days before we got our power back – three more days for our neighbors behind us.
What would I do differently? Besides buy a generator? Move to warm climes? Take the elevator and let them think I was old? Stop at a liquor store and buy wine to go with the bad meal?
Not much. Clio taught me that "be it ever so humble, there's no place like home."
Marian, the Northern half of Evelyn David
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The Ghosts of Lottawatah - trade paperback collection of the Brianna e-books
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