Shaking, Not Breaking

When it comes to natural disasters, New York has fared pretty well over the years. She comes out with minor scrapes and bruises but mostly, she keeps her good looks. Maybe it’s because she’s very urban or maybe it’s because her inhabitants are as strong as well-fed oxen. Whatever the case, it takes a lot to shake her. Today, New York has faced her first real threat in a long time and she goes by the name of Sandy. Dubbed affectionately as “Frankenstorm,” Hurricane Sandy has been tearing up the east coast since earlier today, this October twenty-ninth. While I have no clue of the full damage she has incurred, I hope for everyone’s safety and strength through these next few days. I’ve been fortunate enough to not have had any harm inflicted on me but Sandy has turned my life upside down in a different, not quite bodily way that is scary, enlightening, and informative all at the same time.

School was cancelled today (and tomorrow), the MTA shut down (indefinitely), work has been suspended until Wednesday, and life in general is not to resume as normal until further notice. It seems the worst of this storm may be over, as of now (wishful thinking?) but my backyard is more than halfway flooded and I bizarrely have a house that is only half illuminated (power is out in my kitchen, the upstairs bathroom, and the den but mine and my sister’s rooms have power as does the TV downstairs…weird). I considered getting the day “off” as a blessing at first – sleeping late, not having to put on makeup, no work, spending no money; as the day has progressed, the sky darkening and turning to night, I’ve changed that mindset and find myself uneasily on edge. As the hours have ticked by, I am grossly anxious about the safety of my family, the safety of my home, whether or not we will lose power, and whether or not my dog will stop convulsing/fidgeting.

Having my entire family home, together, has been the solace I’ve needed through all this. Completely opposite work schedules, school schedules, and social lives have made the days that the four adults in my household are together few and far between. In a rare turn of events, today I was able to have both breakfast, dinner, and dessert with my family – meals that were both fantastically prepared by my amazing mother. I had almost forgotten how enjoyable conversation with those nearest and dearest to my heart could be. It sounds terribly corny but I’m grateful to have been locked at home all day for sheer virtue of the fact that it made me spend time with the people I very rarely get to spend time with, with no time constraints or outside pressures.

Above all today, the one thing I have noticed most – aside from the gale force winds bearing down on all four walls of my house and the precious time spent with family– is the outreach from friends. Never in my life have I had so many people actively interested in my well being. From work friends to best friends to old friends to brand new friends, I’ve been flooded (no pun intended) with messages asking if I’m alright, how my family is, how my home is, or if I need anything. I’ve even been offered places to stay in case of evacuation. I doubt any of you were wondering but it needs to be said: there are few feelings in this world more satisfying than knowing that there are people in this world that care about you being alive.

It sounds horrible dramatic but I’d be lying if I said I don’t frequently wonder what would happen if I died. Who would miss me? Would the ones who do surprise me? Would the ones who don’t? I don’t know when I’m going to die and I don’t know if it’s going to be tomorrow. Or the next day. Or next week. And when I do die, when I’m no longer going to school, going to work, kissing the cheeks of loved ones, what am I leaving behind? Who am I leaving behind? What impact have I made? At twenty-one, I can’t pretend that I’ve had this grand impact because I haven’t. I know the lives I’ve been a part of thus far and I can only speculate how they’ll feel after I leave but today has just shown me how wonderful the people I’ve come across truly are. So, while I don’t believe I’m going anywhere anytime soon, I just want to thank everyone who has reached out to me today. You’ve all proven that human kindness will forever surprise me.

As for this hurricane, I don’t think (or rather, I dearly hope) Sandy is going to irrevocably harm me or my New York but whatever damage she does do – to you, your family, or your homes, I truly hope you don’t let her harm your spirit. There is always something bigger than what we can see, what physical damage is done, and that, dear friends, is what we can feel.

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