Monday, August 29, 2011


I'm not sure if it's true in other parts of the country, but New York loves to hype up natural disasters.  This past winter, the various dumpings of snow led newscasters to label the winter storms with such monikers as "Snowgate" and "SNOWMAGEDDON!!!"  It led a lot of people to stop taking weather reports seriously, as well as the Fox News team in general.

Somehow, the dude upstairs had something else in mind this week, though.  Post-call last week, I woke up sometime in the afternoon to feel a rumbling.  I assumed it was the local freight train that comes through once or twice a day and gives my apartment a mild vibration, but when it intensified and became more irregular, I briefly woke up and thought to myself "Hmm, must be an earthquake.  Okay." and went back to sleep.  My first earthquake ever, and I missed it!!  It wasn't until a few hours later when I hit Facebook that I realized that the earth had moved from virginia to connecticut, with everyone else super-excited for The Great Quake of 2011.  (A guy in Brooklyn even had it tattooed on his arm.)  Of course, there was much mocking to be had - a number of pictures circulating "documenting" the destruction, which depicted a lawn patio table set with one plastic chair mildly knocked over.  Still, it was exciting.

That is, until the news team seized on Hurricane Irene, steaming up the Eastern Seaboard.  It was apparently the first hurricane to directly hit the NYC area in several decades, although I remember many summers of very intense thunderstorming and flooding because of the residual tropical storms coming from the Caribbean.  I've seen NYC panic before, but people began to act like the end of the world was approaching.  My friends all posted pictures of people lined outside the Trader Joe's, beating each other down for the last biodegradable container of wasabi peas, while my parents brought in the goldfish from the pond and stocked up on sandbags from Home Depot.  My own home base became a part of the mandatory evacuation zone, and so all 40 patients had to be removed from the facility, as well as a number of my co-residents who lived in the area as well.

But for me, it became an exciting chance to hole up and go back to basics.  My new boyfriend Z asked me to spend the weekend safely ensconced together, so I "evacuated" him from the Upper East Side and we drove together to Brooklyn, to spend it with his friends J&J, a fabulous couple about whom enough sweet things cannot be said, as well as his close friend S.  We hung out, ate pizza, watched Star Trek, played Settlers and Starcraft (I took a nap for that last part) and just had a million laughs.  Around 3 am, we went up to the roof to watch the hurricane kick into action, and as the wind blew the trees over and the rain poured sideways, I started to feel infused with an incredible awareness and connection to the force we were witnessing together, something I rarely feel since leaving the windy streets of Chicago.  We woke up the next morning to eat bagels, lazy around, and take bets on who would be able to escape their Monday morning responsibilities.  (I wasn't.)

Like the storm, I came into the weekend with an intense fever pitch and left in a calm, deeply contented state.  My neighborhood had a downed tree or two which smushed a few cars, but we were otherwise well for the wear.  The home base hospital still hadn't opened, but maintenance crewed and residents began trickling in.  Everyone showed up to work more or less in one piece, and we resumed the work of the day without a backwards thought.  Except for the occasional twig out of place, we had all moved on.      But in my head, I treasured having two whole days to feel gratefulness and even joy.

1 comment:

  1. I had a microbiology teacher that referred to the weather report as the anxiety report. She had a gift for understatement.