The disclaimer: I know this post will make me sound like a spoiled bitch. People lost their homes, some people lost their lives and my piddly travails are nothing at all. But I’m a writer. I write and I document, and what’s a blog for if not a good whine? And perhaps some of you will laugh inside your own newly lit apartments and identify- just a little bit- and that’s what it’s all about. What we went through during the hurricane is a speck, but it’s my speck.
After a last restless night spent in midtown- mere blocks from Penn Station- in a hotel half filled with confused tourists and the other half power-refugees like myself- I am home again- home again- jiggety jig! I am now gleefully running the dishwasher, tossing candle stubs and used batteries while intermittently stroking the freaked out furry cats. Thanking my lucky stars neither one ignited during the candle hours.
Today has been enlightening. I now have tourist-empathy. They must feel so gouged. For $380.00 a night our bathroom is Lilliputian. One tiny square sink- very chic, but the water pools in it and since the vanity is only inches wide, I’m afraid the blow dryer will fall in there and electrocute one of us. Teeny tiny stall shower has the water pressure of a kinked garden hose and the toilet is in a niche and requires dislocation of one’s shoulders to reach the toilet paper. You have to ask for fresh towels in the morning. I get the whole conserve water issue and always defer clean sheets every day, but with a Barbie sized bathroom there isn’t anywhere to dry the towels so they can be re-used. And no cotton balls? What is my teenager daughter going to do without cotton balls? I secretly think she eats them. I open the mini-fridge to find it completely empty. Not one miniature bottle of booze on the wall. When the extra cot is brought in and the couch unfurled there is not an inch of floor space and I bounce from mattress to mattress to cross the room. I stop drinking water after ten so that I won’t wake the kids by leaping on them during a nighttime bathroom mission.
When I emerge onto the street I felt like I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. This has never been a neighborhood in which I’ve been comfortable. The streets are awash with those poor tourists and hustlers taking advantage of them. The stores are all chains and so are the restaurants. That burger that was such a treat in the Financial Center (Wow, was that only yesterday?) is now joined by another. That’s my meat quota for a month. The kids know 5 Guys Burgers, so that’s what we eat. I just feel so out of sync. I guess massive power outage will do that to you. At least we weren’t having Zombie discussions any more.
Tonight the kids have gone off to bunk with friends who gotten their power back, so I’m camping out by myself. I know I should be reveling in not having to spring from one mattress to another, but it’s lonely. The gigantic bag of peanut M&Ms and I will have to manage all by our lonesomes.
I stay awake into the wee hours dialing the home phone repeatedly, hoping my own voice will greet me on the other end. I long to hear it announce no one is home- duh- but a live machine would indicate power had returned to my place. No joy. We live in one of the very last grids to be re-powered, but I kind of figured that.
I put in the earplugs purchased at Duane Reade (along with a bag of cotton balls) and try to sleep.
I wake at 6:00. Before even opening my eyes, I hit the phone and pray. Never was I so happy to hear the sound of my own voice!
I pull on my jeans- the same ones I’ve been wearing since the hurricane- I don’t know why. For the first three days I had my entire wardrobe at my disposal, and could have been weathering the blackout in Dolce and Gabbana, but somehow it just felt right to pull on the same jeans each morning. Black ones of course. I add a black tee, black combat boots and my black leather jacket. I would say this is my be ready for anything in an emergency outfit, but it’s just everyday wear. Clothes horse I am not- at least in the daytime and this utilitarian ensemble just works every day, blackout or not. Plus I think it makes me look dangerous, like Laura Croft Tomb raider. I am seriously deluded, I know.
I stuff the meager wardrobe I’d packed in my dark apartment Thursday into the single bag I brought, concerned we might have to hoof it up here. I do a quick glance around the room, grab the do not disturb sign off the door and toss it. Dance from foot to foot waiting the the elevator. Fly though the lobby dropping “keys” in check out box with an audible good riddance. The staff calls out to me as I run past “Please join us another time” and I think; Seriously people?
A taxi sits in front of the hotel and I leap into it like my doppelganger Laura Croft being chased by cannibals. As we drive downtown I see lights blazing in storefronts, traffic and street lights, and I have never been more grateful. A refrain of “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” keeps cycling through my mind. I am even grateful for my taxi driver leaning on his horn, despite the fact the streets are still deserted, because it’s normal.
I use my laser key to enter the building- never more happy to hear the once annoying buzzing sound. The pinging of the elevator is music to my ears. I walk in and find two lights blazing. Cave woman see fire for the first time. I burst into spontaneous tears. I have no idea why.
The Ruby Slippers worked Auntie Em. I’m home.