Let them come to New York, stand on the shore of the Hudson, look and kneel. When I see the city from my window – no, I don’t feel how small I am – but I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body.
― Ayn Rand
A bold orange sun breaks through the early morning cracks as the first planes since Hurricane Sandy begin to ease in and out of the city. The Queensboro hums again. I watch from my window as commuters walk, bike and ride (three to a vehicle for now) into Manhattan. The usual hubbub of people running to catch the subway or tram rushes past my building. I catch glimpses of small talk and kisses goodbye. All of these noises, nuances, that touch most of my days without so much as a passing glance, grab my attention. I lean back, listen to the familiar sounds and feel a sense of normalcy wash over me. It feels good.
My heart goes out to all of those who lost during this hurricane. Whether it was the loss of power, irreplaceable photos or cars and homes, I understand. Things will return to normal, although it may be a new kind of normal. Life will go on. Time will refuse to stand still. Those around you—family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers—will help. Let them. Events like this bring with them a renewed sense of community, and it’s priceless.
I’m no stranger to hurricanes or tragedy. I survived Hurricane Hugo in ’89 while living in Myrtle Beach—driving into the night because of a last minute emergency evacuation, dodging falling trees and debris. In Orlando, a succession of hurricanes with unassuming names like Charley and Frances devoured Florida. We had major leaks but no real damage, and I considered myself lucky. In Atlanta, a house fire destroyed everything. And finally a major robbery in North Carolina stole my spirit for a long time as I lost childhood memories, electronics, and everything in between. It’s hard to lose like that . . . It’s hard to lose.
But remember to pay attention to the things we gain. Just yesterday, our building provided a breakfast in the lobby for all the residents and the staff, a staff that worked tirelessly for 3 days without ever leaving the building. It was a welcomed bright way to start the day and a gesture that makes our place a home rather than just another apartment building. Our local shops, like Starbucks, Riverwalk Bar & Grill, Fuji, and Duane Reade opened early to make sure residents could stock up on supplies and grab a meal. We heard stories of staff figuring out creative ways to make it in to help. And we talked to neighbors who had lost power but not their sense of humor and gratitude.
Later in the evening, tiny trick-or-treaters sputtered down the hallways, laughing and celebrating. Outside neighbors leisurely walked their dogs while dots of vibrant yellow scattered the streets as cabs resumed their major role in New York City civilization.
Yes, this morning planes are back in the air, many of the subways back on track and businesses gently reopen their doors. The sun is shining, albeit through a few clouds. The city is noisy once again. And if we look close enough we all witness New York shaking off the hurricane residue, resilient as ever. And all at once you just know, things will be okay.