Here I sit in a gorgeous house in Saugerties with two of my favorite old friends drinking Pumpkin Ale, Fergus passed out on the couch after nipping some steak fat from our stew and a fire crackling in the corner.
Yet the television is grinding and showing us sights from New York, New Jersey and Staten Island that are just unfathomable. Anderson Cooper and Governor Cuomo are talking to people at the Freedom Tower site that said there are 200 million gallons of water left to pump out. What? Whitehall subway, which was just renovated at a cost of millions of dollars, still has two stories under water. Fuel had mixed with salt water, deteriorating everything quickly and efficiently.
This entire situation has been a nightmare that I have only seen on TV and through Facebook and word of mouth. When the hurricane hit Manhattan Rod, Philip and I were cooking a roast chicken, listening to Bizet and shrugging our shoulders when we would look out the windows sighing, “Is this it?” There was hardly any rain (Irene flooded Rod’s home severely) and the trees were whipping around, but nothing too horrifying. I took Fergus out for a walk that night and saw cracked trees on the bigger boulevards and standing water in some tree beds but that was all the terror felt in Harlem. Our power was on and we breezed through it.
It wasn’t until I turned on the television to hear the panic in voices and saw images online of water pouring into subway stations and turning the East Village into a lake that I realized what was happening down town. To be honest and totally selfish, the event for me was two days off with all events canceled! WAHOO! I was in pajamas for three days, getting loads of work done on the website I am launching December 1st and getting books and magazines read that were piling up. I even went to bed at 10:30 one night. That hasn’t happened in years.
Way before Sandy was a sparkle in the weatherman’s eye, I had planned to forgo Halloween at the Boom Boom Room with a performance by Grace Jones. Instead I wanted to come upstate and spend time with Angela and Colin who are here from England with their 20 month old girl, Ren. I kept my plan and drove up on Wednesday morning with little to no traffic. What was eerie was the continuous stream of tree service and electricity company trucks steadily humming south to help out.
The day I arrived we took a magical hike to Kaaterskill Waterfall, a double waterfall that was a favorite subject for the Hudson River School artists. I took Fergus off leash and he bounded up rocks, through mossy streams and around massive tree trunks. I don’t think I have ever seen him happier. As we hiked through the thick, dense, wet forest I caught up with Angela who I haven’t seen in over two years and got to hear little Ren sing ‘Old McDonald’ while snuggled in her baby carrier on her father's back.
We approached the mighty waterfall and saw a mother and her son just gazing at the fall. The mother turned around and asked, “Are you refugees too?” That was the first time I heard that, and I would hear it many times over three days. So many people had escaped up to this rustic paradise where little has been touched by this Big Magilla. The sylvan forests here carry on as they always have.
Today we drove down to visit Danielle at West Point. It was wonderful to see little Ren run through the Civil War cannons, plugged into the ground, muzzle down, to symbolize the end to a nation divided. Yet that is what I am most worried about. Gas is running out around Manhattan, lines are growing throughout the state to stock up. Electricity may not come back on for 10 more days in some places. Staten Island is already barking that nobody is paying attention to them as two young boys were discovered dead in a field, ripped from their mothers arms in a storm surge. There is much anger in the air.
But let’s only think about the positive. I have remained unscathed and Patrick has been staying in my room since he has been flooded out of his home in the East Village. People are sharing cabs, helping each other out and coming together just as they did after 9/11. One comment that has stayed with me was from my favorite burlesque dancer and friend, World Famous *BOB*:
I just had the pleasure of hanging out, serving food to, and walking to the powder room- some REALLY cool seniors at the Park Slope Armory tonight. You can volunteer for a few hours- they really need 5am-9am people. Hanging out with old people is like getting a post card from your future. ♥
Thank you BOB, you are beautiful inside and out.