“It’s the simple things in life,” sings Zac Brown, “that mean the most.”
Frankenstorm drove me to reconsider my appreciation of event the most basic things. I jokingly told my roommates we should consider this a forced retreat for introspection and reflection. Flushing the toilet, taking a shower, drinking clean water – everyday done without even a thought now take highest precedence.
Work took me to LA for the early part of the week, and I just managed to get into JFK on Sunday afternoon. I hadn’t really been paying attention to the weather or news reports, so I really underestimated the severity of the situation.
Although everyone gave the appearance of staying calm, there was a bit of pushing and rushing at baggage claim. I gave up on the line for cabs at JFK, and took a town car. Thankfully, my roommates had begun storing water and non-perishables.
“First-world problems” became a fun catch-phrase recently. Now, I realize that part of my first-world complex rests securely on the belief that I’m untouchable. Even when Con Edison called to notify me that power below 34th Street would be shut off at 8pm on Monday, I shrugged it off. I hopped in the shower around 6:30, just in case.
Even when the power cut off at 8:15ish, my roommates and I were assured it would be back on by the morning, Wednesday at the latest.
Well, it’s Wednesday and I walked uptown to workout and shower at NYSC. I’m sitting in a coffee shop charging my devices and trying to reconnect to the outside world.
In trying to keep warm, dry, and hydrated time becomes a non-factor. Even though we constantly ask, “how much longer will it be before we have power again?” we’ve figured out how to take care of ourselves.
It’s a constant race to beat the darkness. Daylight is allocated for reading, writing, cleaning, etc. These things require light, but aren’t a need worth wasting candle or lamplight. The refrigerator is only opened once in the morning and once at night, and is a communal activity. Flushing (manually) the toilet happens once, maybe twice a day, utilizing old, stale water.
Monday night we enjoyed a hall party, finally meeting our neighbors. The emergency lights remained on, so we gathered with bottles of wine and flashlights.
Tuesday afternoon we ventured out to purchase bottled water and survey the damage at the East River. Last night we played cards and chatted. It’s going to bed that’s hard – it’s too dark to do anything, but 9:30 is a little early. I’m totally predicting a baby-boom nine months from now, just saying.
My perception of darkness also dramatically shifted. Darkness is the absence of light. Until now, I didn’t realize how much light continues to shine throughout the night. I felt pretty safe until the lights from the church across the street went out. The absence of light brings everything into question. Darkness requires a reliance on intuition and instinct. Drawing upon instinct and intuition stripped me to the basics, with zero distractions, which is where creativity can emerge.
Just me, my thoughts, and I.