The day after the hurricane, my friend and I walk from First Avenue and East 4th to Midtown where we can use our phones. Minutes after we arrive, my friend gets word that he can stay at his friend’s apartment in the Upper East Side, so he makes the decision to go and strand me in front of The Roosevelt Hotel.
“I’m sorry,” he told me. “I really don’t want to leave you here but I gotta go. Will you be okay?”
No. My apartment downtown has no power, my cell phone is running out of battery, and I haven’t figured out a place to stay. I would’ve really liked it if my friend hung around until I knew where I was going but I was too embarrassed to speak up and be like, “I NEED YOU RIGHT NOW. PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME.”
Instead, I tell him yes, even though I can feel my eyes begin to well with tears, and my friend runs away from me as if I’ve been infected with the Ebola virus and/ or have bed bugs.
I stand on a street corner, dialing friends’ numbers, but no one responds. I send texts to people who live in Brooklyn, asking if I can crash for a little while, but I get nothing in return. I have never felt more friendless in my life.
My mind starts to race. I don’t have enough money to stay in a hotel uptown. And I really don’t want to return to my apartment because my roommate is out of town which means I’d be all alone for the next week without much food or working electricity.
Where was I going to go?
Just as I was beginning to think worst-case scenario, one of my friends texts me back and invites me to stay at their apartment in Williamsburg.
Thank you, Jesus.
I’m at a bar in Williamsburg and everyone appears to be wasted out of their minds. The bar is very bougie, selling 12 dollar cocktails that have ingredients like bitters and currants, and no one seems to be acknowledging the fact that a natural disaster has just occurred. That being said though, the mood does feel different in a way. More reckless and primal, like everyone has just been released from their cages and is going insane with freedom. A gay guy is chatting up a friend of mine and asks for her number. He works at Ralph Lauren.
At one point, a friend tries to take a picture of me and a few other people but a drunk girl stumbles over and decides to photobomb it.
“Hi,” I say to the random girl who’s standing next to me. “What’s up?”
“Nothing,” she slurs. “I just love being in pictures.”
Everyone gets too drunk. One person calls their dealer and within five minutes, a man who looks like Inspector Gadget but gayer and with bleached blonde hair, comes up to the table. Apparently he’s selling Molly. I decline because I’ve never taken Molly before and I don’t think this is quite the right time to experiment.
I walk back to my friend’s apartment but get lost and have to call him on my cell phone. The night ends with me cradling a turkey burger and feeling vaguely depressed.
Everyone is just beginning to realize the extent of the damage that was incurred by Hurricane Sandy. Dead bodies are floating in the river by Staten Island. The famed New Jersey boardwalk in Seaside Heights took a hit, people in The Rockaways have limited resources. It’s bad. It’s real bad. Meanwhile, people in Williamsburg are still skipping around, drinking their organic fair-trade coffee and being like “Where is the béchamel sauce on this $15 macaroni and cheese I just ordered?” Williamsburg’s obliviousness and profound commitment to the hipster lifestyle is both refreshing and frustrating. Regardless, I feel fortunate to be here rather than anywhere else.
My father texts and calls me constantly asking if I’m okay, which makes me wonder if people who don’t live in New York think that the hurricane is still happening. Although his incessant barrage of questions annoy me, it’s better than not being called. My mom has only phoned me once to ask if I was doing alright and a part of me is offended that she’s not sending me frantic misspelled texts like my father is.
I have trouble sleeping every night because my anxiety is through the damn roof. The friend I’m staying with just so happens to have a prescription to Xanax so he feeds me little bars before I go to bed. It works but it leaves my brain feeling like Play-Doh the next day. By the fourth night of me taking it, I decide that I should stop relying on something to go to bed. Subsequently, I barely sleep for the next two nights.
My friend goes out of town and offers me his empty apartment to stay in. I readily accept. I think that the quiet time is going to help quell my anxiety and give me some peace but it doesn’t. In fact, I just feel more depressed and anxious being alone. I wonder WTF is wrong with me. My situation was a best case scenario! I have no right to be upset when people have died or had their homes destroyed. I am an asshole. I am a selfish asshole who’s clearly experiencing some form of survivor’s guilt. My dad calls me and asks how I’m feeling and I break down crying (JK, I don’t cry). I tell him that everything is just so… sad. What has happened to the city is just so sad. I know it goes deeper than that though. The truth is that the hurricane has made everyone go insane. It’s done some emotional voodoo over the residents of New York and no one feels quite normal.
I go to a bar with my ex, get drunk, and we go home together. No sex. Just talking that I don’t remember. I think it was bad though. Slept for three hours and did my walk of shame back to the apartment I was staying in. Is it possible to do a walk of shame when no sex was involved? Yes, I learned during the hurricane. Yes, it is.
I spend the day at my friend’s apartment just sitting and talking. It feels like high school all over again. No one has work because of the hurricane so everyone is just wandering around aimlessly, trying to find something to do. It feels like we’re 16 and I kind of like it.
I shower constantly and somehow always feel dirty. I hear the power went back on in my apartment but I decide to stay an extra night in Brooklyn because part of me is scared to go back and I don’t know why.
I take a cab back to Manhattan. The second I see my apartment, I have to poop, which lets me know that I’m definitely home again. Home bittersweet home.