Zone B — An Abecedarian

A perfect storm, waves and wind and an elusive full moon.

Barometric pressures for the record books, and me beforehand shopping endlessly — for nearly all the wrong things.

Canned tuna, of course, to add to the collection from last year in preparation for Irene, and applesauce, but also cheese and eggs that will need to be turned into a quiche as if I were preparing for a party rather than a catastrophe.

De rigor, the tuna, who wouldn’t stock up on that?

Even taped the windows with big Xs of duct tape before learning that it would make no difference if the glass really were to go flying out.

Fortunately, it didn’t.

Grateful for that and for other things large and small.

Highest on the list being the safety of my 89-year-old father, who for this year’s storm had a grandchild with him, a big strapping 6 foot 4 grandchild who grew up in Norway and speaks next to no English, but is still better than no grandchild at all.

I come to life during these emergencies, like a vampire feeding on darkness, temporarily thrust into purposeful action: shopping, cooking, finding and filling flashlights, setting out candles, again as if for a dinner party.

Juxtaposed to all the busyness is the rising panic, kept at bay or nearly so with cigarettes.

Kitchen safety matches, one of the purchases I’m most pleased about — remembering to get them that is, and how useful for starting the gas stove, now that the automatic strikers are out.

Listening to the winds still whipping the branches around the next morning, I am glad to be three floors up … high enough that the tree outside my window would fall below my floor if it were to fall, but not so high that walking up and down the pitch dark stairs is cumbersome.

Morning now again, day three, and already the days are blurring together because of all the days beforehand just waiting.

Never mind that though.

Once I sailed through blackouts with my lover, the city on holiday, and me along with it.

Perambulating up past 26th street, the line of demarcation between power and no power, there are giddy shoppers, so relieved that parts of the city are alive and well and open for business; B&H is a hotbed of activity, the Hasids taxied in from Brooklyn for the feeding frenzy of shoppers in search of electronics, hundreds of them with red earlocks, and brown earlocks, and blonde, and black, and beside them one non-Hasidic security guard.

Quiet again, as another day passes into night, and I scurry back to my tiny warren before total darkness descends.

Restless immediately, too restless to stay put, I venture north again into the light.

Saved, I sip a soda at a Taco Bell, while my phone recharges —  though really I’d gone out for a beer — and watch Cooper Anderson and the big crane on 57th street, the boom of which fell over as if it were made of twigs.

The only incident is the crazy man who enters the Taco Bell screaming, “You should be tied up, not that dog out there.”

Unsure what he might be capable of, I linger in the safety of the fast food restaurant until it seems safe to push on home.

Violent Sandy, despite the insipid name.

When is the big question: when will normalcy return? — though if I understood the politics of survival better there would be other questions; why this neighborhood before that one?; why grandstand about community, while those in them suffer?; why leave two people in an evacuated hospital and forbid the employees to talk to reporters about the situation?

eXodus is the ongoing fantasy.

Yet I stay.

Zone B is where I live.


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