Before the power went out on Monday night, for a few insane moments, I did think of heading down to Ten Bells. You know, winemakers in town, Crozes-Hermitage, that sort of thing. Then something went bang off of someone's roof top and I thought, hmm, maybe not.
Started to work on Newsletter #2.
Then the power went down. Computer crashed, "Fuck," I said. I saw the flicker, I should have shut down.
I lit my candles. Finished off the last bit of Txakoli in my fridge.
Then opened the next, a 2010 Beaujo because why not. Cell phone still worked and I was draining my batter looking at tweets. Then visitors. More wine. I made popcorn, something I'd not done in 19 years. Poorly, I might add. In fact, it sucked. I plugged in the relic: the landline with a cord.
The air was filled with the small of wires that had met their end. Cell service no longer. Called mom on ancient phone to make sure she was okay. Afterall, she refused to evacuate her town of Long Beach. "I walked into a wall," she said.
"Where was your flashlight?"
"In my hand."
"Was it on?" I asked her. The answer was no. Of course.
Bed. Wake up. Wonder what now. Still no cell service. No mom. Not even her landline. Fast busy. Not happy.
I took a walk to survey the damage of the night. There were a few people huddled on the corner of Houston. "There's service here?" I asked them. My iPhone popped out of my pocket faster than the lights went down the other night.
A zombie feeding on flesh, a vampire looking for blood, I searched for the signal. Quick check. Communication. Nourishment. I felt like a junkie or at least one that is mixing metaphors.
Then after boiling an egg (I still had my gas) I walked up to my friend Okey's ondesign wired-up office (he designed my newly launched newsletter). It was only then I realized how panicked I had been not hearing from my mother since midnight on Monday. I plugged in and searched for Long Beach news. no water, electricity, gas. National Guard was moving in and people removed from their houses by the morning. My mom in a shelter? That doesn't work.
I had to get her out of there.
But there wasn't a car to be rented in all of New York City. I went to Facebook, "Anyone have a car to lend me to help me find a missing mom?" (She'd kill me if I gave her age but let's just say she's closer to 100 than she is to 77--and she drives into NYC to work every day.) Within five minutes, I had three car offers. Then one seious one came through on my cell. "I"ll pick you up in 20 minutes. Let's go!"
I told Okey how lucky I am to have these men in my life who take care of me. "I'm going to be one of them," he said. He fished out a phone charger and handed it to me, "For the ride."
I found a cab down down to E-street and the no electric zone. Ozzie arrived. We left. Easy. Past Sunrise Highway there were no traffic lights. Starting around Lido Blvd the boats and cars were facing wrong directions. Power lines down. And after the bridge we saw people walking like refugees with bags, going where? Not sure. The scene was post -apocalyptic.
My mother's building was boarded up. Sand dunes were piled up far from the beach. I shouted up. She didn't hear. Someone was leaving the building let me in. I slid up. Pounded on the door. She was there, having just lit the candles for the evening's darkness. She was one happy mother.
"Pack!" I instructed her.
"I can't leave," she said, showing her Ethel stubbornness.
"Do you think I'm here for dinner? Come on, mom. Get your things together."
"My car's dead. It starts but it sounds awful. Go look at it," she said, giving me her keys.
"Pack!" I repeated. "Or I'll do it for you." But then I thought, my mother without a car? That's a bad one. Okay, we'll deal with that later.
She said she couldn't leave. Everyone else had left the building. But she wasn't going to leave. "They are expecting looting."
"Exactly why you're not staying here" I said. "You have nothing here anyway to take. Come on, Mom, pack."
Then she gave in and only then did I realize how terrified she must have been because she did actually pack. She took a towel and a pair of underwear, as if she were going over night instead of indefinite. This is my mother, a stubborn woman. "How is it you have a friend who could be so wonderful?" She asked, as she met Ozzie. My mother knows how to be a friend but she doesn't understand the concept of receiving. She doesn't really grasp the power of frienship.
We dropped the refugee in safety at my cousin in Bayside. I headed back to Brooklyn deciding to spend the night with light instead of darkness. All was normal there. Franny's was packed. We decided to pick up Indian. Aarpan. Very delicious. Homey. I couldn't wait for a bottle.
Back to his house, with two cats, (not my favorite, but they were cute), and a 2009 Olivier Cousin Le Breton that I frankly could not stop drinking, as if it were water. A lush year for Anjou, Olivier has given me shelter and comfort in his home town, and there I was taking comfort once again, in Windsor Terrace.
My life as a refugee continues until electricity comes back. I'm tempted to go regress to the quiet and cold zone, remove myself from connectivity. Focus on seeing if I can still salvage the capability of writing by hand. Who knows, maybe Sandy will restore the part of my brain that has been wired away from me. I've thought about how technology and modern society has made it too easy to press a button to make things work, and along with it disappeared the knowledge of building sentences as well as function.
Maybe it's not too late to resurrect the thinking cells. Tonight, yes, back to candle light and brightness.
(Lights came on 5pm on Friday. I am grateful and appreciate how lucky I have been and am. Ethel will be homeless for a while. My apartment, five-floors up and a bathtub in the kitchen, even if it is walking distance to her business, won't really work for her. But she'll be okay. My heart goes out to all in the region dealing with worse destruction. May there be power in friendship and even in darkness there is light.)