I'm someone who likes detail. Detail and lists calm me, as do calendars and best-laid plans. Of this 12 weeks on the road, I'd given thought to a whole lot. I had also, in my own neurotic way, left out small portions of time so that we could be 'relaxed' and just 'see how we feel'. I had to actually make a plan not to make a plan. But somewhere on a bus between Boston and New York, listening to Ella Fitzgerald and watching the golden light filter through the most spectacular yellow and red autumn leaves (and feeling quite like I was in a scene from a Nora Ephron film, actually), Jordy told me about the storm. The hurricane that would be passing through the following Monday. A hurricane that had the tri-state area very worried. A daunting and highly inconvenient reminder that really, we have control over very little in this world.
As it happened, our wonderful little studio was unscathed by Hurricane Sandy, and we had power and water throughout. To say we were lucky is an understatement. We didn't leave the house for two and a half days, but were otherwise fine. We watched films, read books and ate bagels. The only real tragedy was running out of tea on the second day, at which point I moved on to a bottle of Spanish rose. We watched news reports in bed and I cried for the people who lost homes and loved ones.
And emerging a few days later wasn't so bad in our little corner of Brooklyn. I got lattes with friends and watched hipsters bike to work past fallen tree branches. But Manhattan, at least the lower half, was still without power, water and phone reception. Walking across the bridge and through a dark and quiet Chinatown one morning was strange. A deserted Soho, no lights and no people felt eerie and wrong. As did the Lower East Side, a mess of people trying to hail the very few cabs out, and piles of rubbish on sidewalks, uncollected and overflowing. It felt like a film set, and not in a good way. We managed to make it uptown, where power was strong, and people were bustling. We wandered the halls on MoMA beside hundreds of locals and tourists, not quite knowing what else to do with themselves post-hurricane. We saw people shopping and eating in restaurants.
We saw two decidedly different cities, and I have to say that neither felt quite right to me. It was jarring and exhausting and more than a little heartbreaking. I was uneasy the whole day, and when we eventually found a cab who would take us as far as East Houston, and walked down to Delancey and across the Williamsburg bridge in the cold and grey, I felt entirely ready to get out of this town and let its people try and get back to normal, if slowly.
We're in North Carolina at the moment, but I read that it is snowing in New York. People are still without power and water, and it's snowing.