I like hurricanes.
Wait. Please allow me to rephrase that.
I am completely fascinated by nature's ability to combine a series of seemingly random, yet complex weather events that come together to unleash incredibly powerful forces that define...and, in some cases...even destroy our precious landscape.
We can predict storms, prepare for storms, calculate, coordinate, and evacuate ahead of storms. However, we simply cannot, try as we may, control their path, their intensity, their fizzle, or their fury.
Therefore, when television stations and newspapers alike blared their resounding warning of the approach of "Superstorm Sandy", I positioned myself in front of The Weather Channel and drifted into a hypnotic trance as the forecasters described my impending doom.
My husband Bob, on the other hand, had more important things to worry about, such as having enough food and battery powered flashlights to get us through the blackout that news outlets were predicting would grip half the civilized world. So, on Friday evening, he and my 15-year old daughter Melissa (along with every other resident living within a 4,000 miles radius) descended upon the supermarket.
On Saturday, we enlisted the support of "rent-a-teen" (my friend Angelica's sons Chris, 16 and Brandon, 13) to clear out the roughly 7,924 cardboard boxes that littered the floor of our garage so that we could safely house our new car during the storm.
By Sunday evening, I gathered all of our candles, lighters, and flashlights, placed them on the kitchen table, then resumed my hypnotic Weather Channel trance.
Schools throughout the state announced closures, my supervisor urged everyone to stay home, government agencies declared a state of emergency, and at the Weinstein household, we watched and watched and watched....and waited.
As Monday morning dawned, we expected to awaken to scenes of total destruction, however, Sandy had not yet "officially" arrived to our neck of the woods. Light rain showers and a steady breeze greeted the residents of Medford, but for the coastal communities of the New Jersey shore located about 60 miles to the east, the break of day told a different story. With Sandy still dozens of miles away, beach towns were already coping with unprecedented flooding that promised only to grow worse by the hour.
I decided to do laundry...in case we lost power. Bob decided to get as much work done on his computer as possible...in case we lost power. We decided to cook dinner early.... in case we lost power.
As the day wore on and the rain and wind picked up in intensity, our little family began to feel a small sense of relief. Our house and the trees that surrounded it remained intact. We sat in the living room, watching TV (yes, you guessed it, The Weather Channel), joking, laughing, and coming to the conclusion that Sandy must have been nothing but hype.
Then suddenly....the lights flickered.
But wait! False alarm. Light returned in five seconds.
Ten minutes later....the lights flickered.
But wait! Another false alarm. Light returned in five seconds.
Five minutes later...the lights flickered. However, this time the lights did not return.
By the time the sun set, our house had been plunged into...................TOTAL DARKNESS.
Melissa and I lit the candles and grabbed the flashlights, while I prepared our family for the mandatory evening blackout activity, a game of monopoly. As Melissa proceeded to purchase all of the valuable properties and take all of my "fake" money, mother and daughter ignored Bob's warning to conserve our cell phone batteries and gave in to the urge to text repeated updates, jokes, recipes, the complete works of William Shakespeare, etc to friends and family.
After we tired of Monopoly, Melissa picked up her guitar and mother and daughter sang our hearts out to Beatles tunes, Taylor Swift, and Green Day, while Bob bestowed upon us appreciative applause. Finally, by 10 pm, as power seemed unlikely to ever return, we conceded defeat, piled the bed with dozens of covers, and tucked in for a long, rainy, windy night.
By morning, an eerie silence told us the storm had moved on. Devoid of the electricity needed for warmth, the house temperature had plunged below 60 degrees. I texted Angelica, who responded immediately with an invitation to spend the day at her warm and well lit home. She sealed the deal with a promise of home made pumpkin pancakes for breakfast.
A few hours later, I found myself once again staring at a monopoly board, although this time I had to contend with not only Melissa, but Angelica, Chris, and Brandon as my worthy opponents. (Bob, who abhors board games, remained content to watch TV). Amid much laughter, when we had all made it around the board a mere three or four times, we cleared the table to make room for spaghetti with Angelica's home made sauce (yum), while Chris and Melissa both insisted they had won the game.
After lunch and a quick walk in the drizzle, Chris challenged us to a game of Scrabble. However, he didn't get the chance to prove he could indeed, beat anybody at the game, since Bob realized he had forgotten his medicine...forcing us to return to our cold, dark, gloomy home.
Obviously, without light or energy to power the stove and microwave, a home-cooked meal remained out of the question. As we munched salads at a local diner, we pondered our next move. The temperature promised to dip into the 40s that evening, making sleeping at home quite an unwelcome prospect. Melissa's best friend came through with the offer of a mid-week sleepover, while Angelica begged Bob and me to come back, even promising to give up her bed so we could sleep in comfort.
We stopped back to the house of gloom so Melissa and I could pack overnight bags. Bob, on the other hand, decided to spend the next several hours secure on our living room sofa, clad in a winter coat, hat, and thousands of blankets.
As Melissa and I used our only two flashlights to scan our closets for clothes to pack, Bob groped in the pitch black that had enveloped our kitchen, tripped and accidentally spilled his coffee, which now covered the entire table, dripped onto the chairs, and began its sinister spread across the kitchen floor.
In response to his screams of horror, Melissa and I raced downstairs, only to find my poor husband at his "Hurricane Sandy Blackout" breaking point. We grabbed paper towels and began cleaning the mess, while he tried to cope with his feelings of utter frustration at our predicament. Clearly, the time had come to simply leave Bob alone.
A few hours later I found myself in Angelica's comfy living room, watching TV, sipping wine and laughing as her boys hit each other with rubber bands, balls, rolled up bits of paper, candy bars, etc. Having raised a sweet, calm teenage daughter, I found Chris and Brandon endearing and funny....adjectives that Angelica, who simply ignored their behavior, would certainly not use to describe their antics.
Much later, after Chris had graciously agreed to give me his room for the night, I laid in bed, eyes wide open, thinking about my husband and daughter. During that first evening, the hurricane had brought us together as a family, playing board games and strumming guitar. Then, the hurricane brought us together with dear friends, sharing good food, good times and lots of laughter. But now, the hurricane had driven a huge wedge in my little family....and even though I knew we were safe, still, we were all under separate roofs.
I missed them.
Fortunately, by evening, we were reunited in our house which now glistened with light and warmth. As we celebrated our new-found appreciation for all things electrical, reports were coming in from others who had not fared quite as well. Many were still without power. The New Jersey shore, now in ruins, suffered catastrophic devastation, as did parts of New York City and Queens.
Did I actually say I like hurricanes? Not anymore.
If you like my stories please tell me in the comments section below! Thanks for visiting!