Hurricane Irene, Part 2

With dreary skies outside, M and I sit anticipating Hurricane Irene, prepared with water and food, candles and flashlights, just as everyone advised. We’re watching the news as long as we have power, trying to prep ahead for work on Monday and figure out how we’re going to get there if the transit doesn’t open until noon. We’re comfy in sweats and trying to decide what in the world we’re going to do if nothing works and we’re without the means to shower. While it’s scary and no one really knows what to expect, it’s also a little exhilarating.

I mean, two natural disasters that don’t normally happen in the Northeast in one week?

God forbid anything happens and lives are lost in the city, I think it’s an interesting lesson for New Yorkers to experience. The island gives you a sense of invisibility. If you make it here, if you can survive the task of living in the city in general, then you’re tough. You’re strong and bold, and because you’re on the good side of Manhattan, the buildings will protect you. The streets will, as Ms. Keys says, make you feel brand new and you’ll walk them tall and proud, inspired by the existence you’re lucky to have. Unlike Los Angeles, it is quite rare to have an earthquake and unlike Miami, it is even less common for us to be in a state of emergency because of a hurricane. But both of those things have happened, and New Yorkers aren’t quite sure what to do with themselves.

The two grocery stores near me have lines lining the block, everyone holding their umbrellas and talking to everyone they can, while they can. The office was busy with chatter about what we should do, if we should be more afraid than what we are, if this is the real deal or if it’s going to blow over. My friends and I were texting all night and this morning about where we should stay, what’s safe and how we should prep. My roommate’s boyfriend has filled our living room with buckets of water so we can flush the toilet if we need to. My other roommate bought a case of water and M brought beer with her – all necessary requirements for being stuck inside.

Me though? I made sure to call my mother so she wouldn’t worry, kiss Mr. P like I meant it just in the rare case, I wouldn’t get to again, and checked up on everyone in NC and in NYC. And then, of course, I took a really nice, long shower so I would at the very least, feel very clean.

But you know what I really feel?

I feel like I shouldn’t take New York for granted as much as I do. I should value the city in the same way I would if I didn’t live here, like all of those 20-plus years I spent idolizing Manhattan because I wanted to be here so badly. I should count my blessings and be thankful for what I have, and never, for a moment, believe nothing could take it away from me. Because maybe a really powerful earthquake could rattle the pavement – most of New York is built on a fault line anyway. Or maybe this hurricane will be worse than what we think and there will be clean-up and relief efforts I’ll be able to volunteer with.

The city isn’t invisible and neither are its inhabitants. We’re the same people with the same warnings and same worries of those anywhere else in the country, and this week, the weather is reminding of us of that.

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