We always tell ourselves, as soon as we can set aside a couple days, we will put order in those photo albums, match – or dispose of – those missing socks, write our friends, make play dates. Like so many others, I have finally had just such days to myself, and not a stitch of work got done. that huge pile of outstanding projects, if anything, got even higher. It confirmed something I had always suspected: The greatest tool we have at our service is not the time stretching in front of us as much as the peace of mind and wherewithal to use it. Being so distraught by all the wreckage around us is so paralyzing that we realize, heck we do much better with our time when we are harried.
This week is a week from hell “Hurricane Halloween”, precisely the kind of week that looks like one of those nightmares where, upon awakening, we tell ourselves to curb our wild imagination so we can get a good night sleep. That is, until we turn on the news, for those of us who could do that, and see this is no idle dream….
Listening to all the dire predictions over the weekend, in the company of my granddaughter Musia and her cousin Moussie (yes, there are many variations on the Musia theme), I was determined to approach the ordeal on a high note, so that when bracing for what might come, I could enjoy in my memory the glow of two beautiful little girls dancing for joy, jumping up and down on the bed “cuz there’s no school cuz of the hurricane, hooray, I LOVE hurricanes!” Boy I was happy to deliver them to their homes, safe and sound and happy, Sunday night, in the nick of time before the madness started. Knowing we would be stranded, as soon as Shabbos was over, we raced to Michael’s crafts store, and stocked up on knitting, beading, drawing and painting supplies. Sunday we made crepes and muffins, knitted a hat, and beaded two necklaces. It was a brief and most welcome throwback to this past summer camp, where I spent a day a week with them and about fifty other delightful children.
Moussie and Musia showing off their freshly made crafts: the hat and the necklaces!
Monday, like everyone, we scrambled to see how all our loved ones and friends were holding up: Power outages, ravaged homes, disabled vehicles, uprooted trees, out of commission train system, no phones and no online access. What could we do but cry at the devastation? And just when we thought enough was enough, we watched in horror as a hundred homes burned to the ground. We still marveled at the near miraculously low loss of life. The evacuation of NYU hospital was a real class act, and kept me inspired and in complete awe.
A wedding actually took place at the height of the hurricane in Crown Heights, and my photographer son in law Meir Pliskin took the wedding pictures! He also took amazing and heart-wrenching pictures of the wreckage in Brighton Beach. Praying for all or friends’ safety there! We had just spent a wonderful Shabbos with our friends the Winners, Chabad Seabreeze, and my granddaughter Tsofia had immensely enjoyed the boardwalk and the shmooze with the birds, the pigeons and the seagulls. Can’t wait to see it all rebuilt bigger better!
Tuesday morning after a fitful night, I woke up to the clamor of people fighting and screaming. After this city mouse established she was not dreaming, I thought, wow, how wonderful, back to business as usual after two days of deserted streets and not a sound. Sticking my head out the window, sure enough I saw four police cars with cops spilling out of everywhere, making arrests in the building opposite mine, trying to immobilize one guy who was putting up a herculean resistance, alone against a dozen cops who came to terms with him only after a good half hour, and carted him off in one of the police cars.
The silver lining came yesterday, Halloween day. I usually intensely dislike Halloween, with its garish and ghoulish displays. I surprised myself when, in a fit of cabin fever, I decided to go for a walk and enjoy the first day after the brutal winds howling and rattling our furniture and the diluvial rain whipping at our windows. Nothing had prepared me for the festive mood that prevailed on Broadway and the seventies and eighties streets. No school for children, no office for parents, the day being Halloween, and everyone having been cooped up three straight days, the only thing left to do seemed to be, go out into the streets in your costumes and have fun. Another surprise was, many stores were open and operating with a skeleton staff, and invited the children in for candy and coins. For hours I watched in wonderment the delightful parade of parents and children that built an oasis of joyfulness and noise with their fanciful getups. We stepped out of the desolate land of Hurricane Sandy into the enchanted land of Oz, and even if it was short-lived and looked surrealistic, it was very real and lovely. Boy we needed it!