Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Week Later: Ambivalent

Well, here we are. Election Day 2012. But, that's not really the point of my post today.

My last post was a week ago, the day after the big storm, Hurricane Sandy, hit the East Coast. I can barely fathom that it's been but a week; it seems so much longer. We were so fortunate. Nothing untoward came our way. My heart aches for the devastation, the loss of lives, the injuries and hardships of those affected by this terrible storm. In mid-town Manhattan, there was little evidence of a problem aside from lighter traffic, closed businesses, and tourists moving about the old fashioned way: on their two feet.

By Wednesday, Halloween Day, traffic was hectic as people busted out their vehicles to make it to work with a downed subway and bus system. More places were open, including the Broadway shows which had been dark for three days. We bought tickets for the matinee performance of Once and enjoyed an early dinner on "restaurant row" in the theatre district. The food was amazing at Beccos and the wait staff were all in costume. All very festive and light hearted.

In retrospect, had I truly understood all the sadness and pain going on within a fifty mile radius at the very same time, the enjoyment would have evaporated. When you don't know, you don't know. The human stories come forth days later; they did in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina, with 9/11, with the massive Asian tsunami of 2004, with the earthquake in Japan. The details take time to surface and spread and in the meantime, most of us (even those in the middle of the fray, unscathed) keep moving forward with our lives.

I'm glad we went to New York. The days spent in the big city were epic, unprecedented, and we saw and experienced things that we will likely never see again. Empty streets, closed businesses, cordoned off subway access points. I learned that geography was on our side as we hunkered down in mid-town Manhattan, protected by tall buildings and removed from the wilds of Battery Park and the southern tip of the island where havoc played out while the rest of us sighed in relief.

By Thursday, Manhattan north of 34th Street started to look and act like "the city" again. We took in more sights, another Broadway play, good food, and walked our legs off. Meanwhile....grief stricken people were close by.

The juxtaposition in hindsight gives me an odd feeling. Could I have done anything useful to help? Or was it "OK" to simply go on with a vacation and make the best of poor timing?

You can see, I'm wondering.


  1. What an adventure you had! And no, it was not a bad thing you went. You were no extra burden to the city, and your experience will no doubt add to your already well-developed sense of empathy and care for people in need.

    With transportation as it was, there isn't much you could have done to help those in the outer boroughs - how would you have gotten there? A cash donation to the Red Cross is always appropriate, if you feel the need to give.

    My niece is in Staten Island, and although she lost power and experienced a lot of fear, she is now working with her church to help others.

    When I lived in NYC in the 70s we experienced the tail end of a hurricane - it was exciting and cozy to be in a warm jazz club watching the taxis in the rain on Seventh Avenue.

  2. I am glad you all had a good time despite the weather!

  3. I am glad you had fun despite the horrible weather!


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