|Flares replace traffic lights downtown|
We’re watching news as I’m posting snarky weather updates on Facebook: “If the power gos out you can always hold a séance with your meditation candles.” Then, actual concerns begin, as the wind picks up and rattles the windows hard. We hear of trees down, flooding on Seventh Ave (west side) and Ave C (east side). A gigantic explosion sounds (Generators blowing at the 14th Street Con Ed Station).
The TV and lights splutter off. We stumble around for candles.
Stare out into the black streets. Blink at each other. Hunker under heavy quilts.
Uptown, one diner is open and mobbed. No waitresses. The cook, speaking only a smattering of English takes all orders. “You’re a hero,” I say, “and your boss should pay you a lot today.” He smiles big. We drive around, shell-shocked.
We buy a jar of instant coffee (Yechh), cringe through a meal of cold, precooked sausages. Amazed that 24/7, colonial people lived with no electricity. Pick up a camping stove, it's broken. Hunker under many blankets and coats. We get out 20 year-old phones that actually work!!! And a battery operated radio. Hear the news for the first time. Stunned that this ancient technology outshines all of the new. I feel like I’m in that show Revolution, and if this continues, maybe The Passage. Weird knowing that people are now shopping uptown at Bloomies and Macy’s as if there’s no blackout—further alienation from uptowners.
Walking at night, we find that the new coffee place has its own generator. Thankful for twenty-something owners who’ve anticipated the apocalypse! Tons of neighborhood types stream in to charge their electronic devices. The valiant coffee baristas work their espresso machine practically to death. Many cool conversations ensure. One man pulls out four live chinchillas from his shirt! There is more than one way to keep warm in the Frozen Apple.
|NYU charging station|
Still, driving is super-fun now. All parking rules have been suspended! Many have left town, so there are lots of parking places. And none of the traffic lights work. You can go from 14th Street to 125th Street in a matter of minutes. Everything is dark, dark, dark. It’s a giant game of chicken at every intersection. Yee-hah!
But we are filthy. We decide to drive to a friend’s in Queens for a shower. Driving’s no fun when there are massive traffic snarls and lines for gas that snake on for blocks. Is cleanliness really worth it? Maybe so, we feel reborn. Just as I’m sort of getting used to the candles and early bedtimes and games of Crazy 8, and meeting all of the folks at the coffee joint, I’m in the kitchen when I see it—a glow from our robotic vacuum cleaner. I scream, “It’s back on!”
Having been through the apocalypse, I won’t easily forget. Appreciate the little things: a candle and a match. Warm shoes. A teaspoonful of instant coffee. And community. Even the friggin’ crazy Chinchilla guy. Did you lose power? What was your story?