Slowly, but surely, some sense of normalcy is returning to lower Fairfield County — for many of us, any way. For others, life will never be the same. Sandy cut a devastating path through our area this week, and my heart is sick to see how much suffering there is.
Those of us fortunate enough to only have to cope with a few days without electricity are now picking up and cleaning up.
This morning, I taught Jazzercise to a class that included several people who are still living in the cold and dark. It was a great reminder that what I do on that stage is sometimes not about physical fitness but about mental well-being. I was glad that for an hour I could provide a bit of escape, an hour of warmth and friendship.
Our washer and dryer are working overtime with loads of pint-sized socks and onesies from our former neighbors — a family of six still making due with a generator. (Yes, bring your lights and darks over, too; we’re happy to have you. The coffee’s hot.)
Relatives of ours in another badly hit state are helping to shelter friends feeling the cold bite of November, and there are countless similar tales all over the region. At the heart of it, most folks are kind and generous souls.
Indeed before our electricity was restored, we had several lovely invitations — to relocate to places where there was power, for a warm meal, a hot shower (that was to have included “yummy” shower gel — I feel a little gypped having missed out on that!) and other creature comforts. A hot shower Wednesday night at a local athletic club felt like heaven on earth.
Human nature being what it is, however, you can always count on idiots to be, well, idiots.
I had work to do despite the weather and found myself traveling nomad-style from wi-fi hot spot to wi-fi hot spot.
What started out as almost a party atmosphere at a Cosi in Stamford quickly deteriorated as the days went by. By Thursday, as nerves continued to fray, courtesy was in shorter and shorter supply. (I confess, I was feeling more than a little piqued by Thursday morning.)
For every kind soul willing to share a charging cord or give up his seat to someone waiting, there was someone like the man in Starbucks who let his fancy leather case occupy a much-needed seat for several hours while he waited for a friend (I didn’t think she was real for a long time, but she finally showed; why, though, couldn’t someone have sat there in the meantime?).
Or the older man who bullied a teen girl at the library by shooing her away from the outlet he wanted, then left his stuff charging and went across the room to gab with his friend while the poor girl sat on the floor and tried to do her homework.
Or the folks losing their tempers on line at the gas station, or cutting the endless lines of traffic.
Or the mothers letting their kids run wild in the overcrowded supermarket — where one particular twosome took great joy in ramming other shoppers from behind with the cart they were steering (yes, I was a victim — twice).
Watching television coverage of the storm for the first time last night, with its scenes of mass destruction on the Jersey Shore and on Staten Island, among other places, I was struck by the many lessons this storm had to teach.
Many of them are heart wrenching, of course, but there are other less-serious ones as well. In no particular order, some of them are:
- People are far more resilient than they think.
- A tree being uprooted in a storm makes a much quieter noise than you might expect.
- Pizza is the go-to after-storm hot meal. It will be a long time before I have another slice.
- The first day of a power outage is, well, not fun, but manageable. By the second day, one’s resolve begins to crack.
- No one sharing power cords in a Starbucks at 7:30 am cares if you have bedhead or a European-style armpit.
- Even the most serious night owl will go to sleep at 8 pm if there is no power.
- There are only so many games of solitaire you can play on an iPod before your eyes give out.
- Even coffee that tastes like socks is REALLY good when you don’t have the ability to make a cup at home.
- It appears that everyone celebrates the return of power by running through the house and turning on every light switch and appliance they own.
- Halloween candy is a perfectly acceptable breakfast in the aftermath of a storm. (I’m quite sure it has all the food groups — at least that’s what I told myself as I watched Catherine rip the bag open.)
- A teenage girl will find a reason to request a trip to the mall no matter what the weather.
Here’s hoping you and yours are safe and warm — if not now, very, very soon.