After the storm
We sat on a sofa and watched Sandy through the window and on Twitter and on Instagram. We saw the 14th Street explosions light up the sky over Manhattan, over Brooklyn and turn it white and turn it green. As the wind blew stronger and as the rain fell harder, as it went on longer and longer, we moved further and further back from the huge windows of Lieslâ€™s living room, further and further back from the street lamp that wobbled like a loose tooth in the ferocious wind.
The house lights flickered once, twice, three times and I took a shower and washed my hair and dried my hair because it mightâ€™ve been my last chance for a while. With Manhattan wet and darkened and the windows rattling, we went to sleep.
The day after the storm, the streets of Bushwick were covered in leaves and trash. A few branches had ripped themselves from the trees and fallen across the sidewalk and into a playground. Two men in grey sweatshirts jogged together along Flushing, a squirrel sat upright and alone near a puddle. The Walgreens was open and had no water to sell but they re-stocked shelves with Halloween candy instead.
The night after the storm the bars were open and we drank in The Narrows and in Dear Bushwick and we talked about our biggest fears (being alone, someone we love dying because of something we’ve done, cancer, sharks). We went home and slept again while much of Manhattan was still dark, while people in Queens, Long Island, Staten Island and so much of Brooklyn were re-imagining their lives.
The next day was Halloween and DUMBO was slowly draining so Liesl went back to work and I walked to Williamsburg where a street lamp was down and where people talked about the storm. I ate lunch at the bar at Reynards. People were camped out and someone called Evan had brought backgammon. They ate kale Caesar salads and big German sausages and talked about the storm. On the streets there were children dressed as superheroes and princesses, a little brown bear dragged her reluctant sister from shop to shop.
Later I dressed up as a pizza slice then went to a bar in Williamsburg and watched bands dressed up as other bands. Buckets were filled with cash for the Red Cross and it was loud and no one really talked about the storm.
Three days after the storm I walked to the Williamsburg Bridge. There were a lot people walking in both directions. On the Manhattan side, people carried around their phones and iPads, stopping wherever they could get reception. There was a row of cop cars on Delancey and no traffic lights, only little white gloves and whistles saying stop and go, stop and go. A dark convenience store and a pizza place cooking with gas were the only shops open. All the subway stations were closed and ripped yellow caution tape danced a wild dance off the corner of things.
On Ludlow, a small crowd gathered around a power outlet, all holding phones and chargers and patiently awaiting their turn. A woman gave a pair of white jeans to another woman outside the hurricane evacuation centre. A man lay across the door of his shuttered shop waiting for something.
I didnâ€™t stay long. The city felt frozen. Powerless.
Back on the bridge I saw people pushing prams and pulling suitcases. There were more people jogging. In Williamsburg a couple were breaking up on a corner; she sobbed quietly into a tissue. A queue of people were waiting to get their nails done.
On Metropolitan, something bad had just happened to someone at the hands of someone else. Police surrounded a house, blocked it off with blue and white tape.
After the storm a good person is still a good person. A bad person still bad.
After the storm couples still break up. Nail polish still chips.