Monday, November 19, 2012

Steps out of the Darkness into the Light

The silence came first. The only thing that could be heard were Muslim prayers blasting from a radio in the bodega across the street.  My neighborhood had never been that quiet. Unless you count the winter nights somewhere between dusk and dawn.

Lights flickered like mad for hours, everything was prepared just in case. The wind a resounding roar that rattled the glass and the trees in the courtyard. But that was it in my neck of the woods. When it was deemed safe to go out I do what I normally do. I donned my sneakers and starting walking.

Walked over one hundred and twenty blocks down and back, addresses in my pocket to help guide me as I bounced back and forth from East to West to bang on windows and climb up stairs in the dark to check on elderly friends of mine. Passed banks running out of money, passed the ambulance stuck in a slow ride down Broadway even with a police escort. Passed the tourists that could turn a dangling crane on 57th street into an attraction. In one building the doorman refused to let me climb over twenty flights of stairs to check on someone out of safety concerns but was kind enough to take a note up to the spunky lady on the 20th floor whose smile and laughter masked a deep pain and fear of getting old. In another building the super offered me a slice of pizza on the way out. I smiled and declined saying others needed/wanted it more than me.

Lights come on. Phone call from the boss out in Queens. " Get your rest cause you're gonna need it."

Can't go back to the office cause thirty feet of water flooded the basement and over twelve in the lobby. Have to relocate a portion of 6000 employees with no space to put them. Chaos on the first day as more and more people show up with heartbreaking and humbling stories.

My house was surrounded by seven feet of water. Is it hot in here? Maybe I feel that way cause my house still doesn't have power.

I have my parents and my brother staying with me. They both lost their houses, one to the storm surge the other caught on fire. I'm just happy and grateful to be here.

When we went to my mother's apartment, it was surreal. Everything looked normal except it was soaked and thrown in disarray. Except for the little angel on top of the bookcase. Lady stood her ground.

Bouncing between New Jersey and Brooklyn to help create some sense of normalcy. First time out there my boss gave me a ride.

" I hope this isn't an indication on how the day is going to be." He says. "On the highway I got a flat tire, then my son says he can't find his cellphone ( it was found in the house, after he suspended service) and now I need to get gas. I passed/called over twenty stations and none have any. I really don't wanna go all the way to White Plains."

" What about New Rochelle?" I ask as I pull out the phone that knows how to do more things than I can think of. Boss doesn't hear me, lost in his frustration. I call one gas station listed on Main Street. " Hi. Do you have gas?"

" YES! YES! WE HAVE GAS! COME UP! NO LINES!". I hadn't even hung up and he was racing towards the expressway.

" How is that possible?! I call twenty and you call one and find one!" A grin spreading across his face.

" It's gonna be a good day."

The light comes one step at a time.