FROM A SAFE PLACE—Musings during a Storm Happening Somewhere Else


I’m from Long Island but not living there anymore.  I’m a New Yorker at heart and manner but a California resident on my driver’s license.  Like much of the world and certainly most of the United States (except for those many places in trouble and / or without power), I spent days glued to the TV, watching the desecration of Sandy the Superstorm.  Violent, capricious, cruel, and startling, Sandy trashed my home while I sat safely in a warm, brightly lit living room 3,000 miles away.

“But that’s not your home anymore,” my son said reasonably.  “This is.”

Yes, he’s right.  And no, he’s not right.

The people are still there.  THE people.  The childhood friends, the high school chums and boyfriends, the cousins and college roommates.  My grandparents lived and died in New York.  My parents grew up in Brooklyn.  The place is in my blood; imprinted on my soul.

I miss my friends. 

Are they okay?  How are they coping with dark, cold, fear, unknown?  With loss? 

New Yorkers are hardy.  But still.

It’s also tough seeing the land itself harmed: Long Island.  The seaside towns, the incomparable beaches that San Diegans rarely seem to recognize as magnificent, the charm and personality of this county and that.  The pine trees and autumn color.  The mad nostalgia of the place, unbelievably churned by such alien winds, by a hurricane of all things—something I never came near experiencing while growing up.

Not that Weather is unknown to anyone raised in a place of four seasons.  Who can forget being stuck in the house for a week after a mammoth snow / ice storm blocked our door and covered cars and made roads impassable?  I recall hiking to the 7-11 for milk. My family slept by the fireplace for a week after the power went out.  And I remember a type of cold that I don’t know how to describe to my son.

But that was not a hurricane.  That was not a Superstorm, the worst storm our country has ever seen.  My home-away-from-home has been hurt…and like an estranged parent I yearn to run over there and clean its wounds.  Not that I would be useful, in all likelihood.  I truly don’t know how resilient I am anymore, after living for so long with dry hot weather, the occasional rainstorm an adventure, and snow a thrilling vacation…

New Yorkers will get through this calamity, as they have gotten through others, without my useless and misplaced nostalgia.  Nonetheless, I would like to say how much I admire their energy and community spirit.  AND their unquenchable humor, even during tough times.  “It’s dark and cold and I’m cranky,” posted one friend via cell.  “It’s not dark or cold but I’m still cranky,” quipped another friend.

Thanks, New York, for hanging in there no matter what.  You’re an inspiration…

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