Written at 9:30 last night:
It’s strange how different the world is in the dark. How quiet. We forget how much noise we create with electricity. The hum of the refrigerator becomes part of our world. When the neighborhood darkens, everything is so much quieter that the world becomes louder.
The hurricane has been roaring around us for almost 24 hours now. It started with rain, last night, and the winds progressed during the day. We were sent home from work at 1:30 (many people didn’t have work at all), and Sandy officially made landfall at about 8:00 tonight. By 8:45 we were in the dark. By 9:15 the neighbors made their exodus, infants and toddlers in tow, headed to somewhere. I don’t know their destination, but I’m sure it has alarm clocks and microwaves.
Without a TV, and even without the hum of the flourescent light in the kitchen, the storm is louder, more violent, angrier. The wind is whipping the rain against the sliding glass door, and I can hear it rip against the vent on the roof. The size of my apartment is so small that the rain slapping the stack is audible from anywhere in the home. Three rooms make for nowhere to hide.
Without the neighbors across the street, there are no lights visible at all. Not even the swing of a flashlight beam as there was 20 minutes ago, before both houses emptied, lighting my home with the final red of their brakelights as they swept away their children to something closer to safety.
I don’t feel unsafe. I feel nervous, an apprehension brought on more by worry about waking up on time to call work, and see if I need to report, than that my windows will break. It’s noisy, and a strong gust is certainly intimidating, but not exactly frightening.
An honest assessment brings me to appreciation. I appreciate this time to sit on the floor and listen to the world. To turn my head and see the dim shadow of the cat, who is possibly unphased, cleaning herself in a corner. To connect to the simplicity of home and roof and dry feet. And to the simplicity of dark. To look around and be able to see nothing but the reflection of the illuminated apple from my computer in the black glass of the television screen. To wonder, to sit in awe of nature.
I discussed, briefly, with my coworkers the nature of the world today versus 90 years ago. When my grandmother was born, they still had ice and milk delivered to their house in a horse-drawn cart. When she died this past March, the world was barely the same. Her family would have had candles in their home for basic necessity, we have to purchase them in case of emergency, or to make our home smell of something other than itself, or to incite romance. And in the end, here we are, facing this so-called natural disaster in relatively the same way. The dark and the wind and rain have not changed, the worry is the same. We are perhaps more prepared, with our radar and our text message alerts, but what do we do to prepare? We tie up our gas grill so it doesn’t blow away, and go inside to wait it out. Our ancestors would have seen the clouds and tied up their horses, but they too would have gone inside to wait it out. Ultimately, we are still men facing nature, hoping for the best, waiting for the end so we can assess the damage.
The news has a tendency to overplay the fear. The more they talk about it, the more we watch. I watched Antiques Roadshow instead, but that’s me. We run out and buy ice and batteries, but it only gets us so far. Sometimes, I wonder, shouldn’t we just take it as it comes, be grateful for this opportunity to be put in our place, reminded that we are still just animals, and the wind is stronger than we are.