Where I’m At, And It Is Dark

Forgive me, because I need to vent and it is not going to be pretty. I should have posted sooner when I was still feeling grateful and hopeful. But, now I'm tired, sad, and frustrated. 


I guess I need to start before Hurricane Sandy. In June, Matt and I started the season with our first trip to the beach. The year before we made many to Brooklyn, Long Beach and Queens, and so we took the A train a different route. As we approached the Beach 67th stop we were both awed. We got off the train and walked through a community of new condo-type ticky tacky looking places that were the exact opposite of my love of brownstones. Normally, I would have scoffed at them, but they were right off a subway line, still in the boroughs of NYC, and right on the ocean. A few blocks on and we were at the beach. It was as pristine a beach as the ones I grew up on in Long Island. We swam, I was bit on the foot by a crab (a warning?). We started to talk about whether we could live there. Could we handle a long commute? The winter? The lack of bars, conveniences or nearby friends? 




I could go on and in about that first day. The good and the bad parts (Matt lost his iPhone to the ocean and his kindle on the beach itself, and was that sign we ignored?), but the timing was perfect and we stopped at a for rent sign and called an owner trying to find a tenant. 


Two weeks later we moved in. ;It was not all roses as we found quirk after flaw in our new place, but it was the first real "grown up" place I've ever had, so I threw myself into fixing it up and making it home. And, we were right.by.the.beach.OMG. And we had three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a yard, unheard of if we stayed in Brooklyn or Manhattan. In that process there was the glass I stepped on that required surgery, and benched me from enjoying the very beach we moved here for (was that another sign?), but we were thrilled getting to know our community, lounging on the beach on weekends, putting endless hours in painting, peeling old paint off the floors, growing grass in the yard, assembling furniture, hemming curtains, the list goes on. And, we got a car so that we weren't so cut off when there was work on the train that made getting around in weekends hard and to take advantage of being so close to my family, who I could now see easily when I wanted to. We spent so much money, much of it foolishly in hindsight, but we were in this for the long haul. 


Things were looking up when the stitches came out of my foot and I could wander aimlessly for miles down the beach and through our adorable town again. We'd joke about opening a mini golf business, ponder what the "Fecund Clown" was, and were finding ways to get more involved in the community. Up until the weekend before last when everything changed. I've paused here at this part for over a half hour now – because even digging back remembering the happiness "before" hurts so bad. 




Now, I'm not naive enough to think that storms don't happen. I ensured we had as much insurance that we could get. We bought FEMA flood insurance, we even have an earthquake rider. I grew up near here and remember Hurricane Gloria, so I thought worst case, maybe we flood. As the drumbeats were getting louder that a storm was coming, during a lunar high tide, and colliding with a Nor'easter we were paying attention. We bargained aloud for days. Do we wait until it started to flood? Until the water passed the boardwalk? Until people with megaphones came around? Would we be trapped if they closed the bridges out? We had an exit plan to go to my parent's house in NJ, we raised everything 2-3 feet off the floor, packed photos and clothes and insurance paperwork and headed Northwest the day before Sandy hit. When suddenly our flooding Zone B locale was being shown on the news inexplicably as a Zone A and we were told to evacuate. 


We were nomads for the first week after. Mostly staying with family in New Jersey, who had also lost electricity in the storm. There were trips back and forth to assess. There was the shock and appreciation that our place had no flood damage. There was the first walk around our beloved neighborhood and surroundings and seeing everything decimated. There is the damage to the beach and boardwalk which is nothing when you see what the water and following fires did to homes and businesses. There were tears and following numbness. There were amazing sights, neighbors helping each other and fortitude that I feel terrible that I seem to lack. There was searching for gas and then coming back to stay in the dark. There was resolve, but that resolve has crumbled. 


I think we need to get out. Then there is more bargaining, just like we did initially with the storm. But, we need to get out of our lease and start.all.over. And, I still have no idea how we will afford it and then then mental avoidance that comes with that realization. 


Before I pause again to sob some more (sorry, I'm not quite myself these days), I have to state what we now know after almost a week back. We both have jobs in the city, we both need to be able to work hours that are often longer than 9-5. There is NO transportation after dark currently. And that includes buses. The subway bridge out here is damaged and is going to take a "long time" to fix. We have NO electricity, heat, or hot water. Time estimates have ranged from two days ago to 7 weeks. To state the obvious, it is winter. We have almost NO communications. Time Warner cable is offering no time estimate and Matt's cell service doesn't work. My cell service barely works, enough for me to post this missive, but not to keep a signal very long on the phone. There are very few amenities left, one of the only ones is a grocery store that closes at 4pm. We have NO open laundry facilities. After the electric comes back, will they? And with getting gas still an issue, we're feeling pretty limited and wondering where we will do our laundry without paying expensive tolls. (Random example, the Verrazano Bridge is $13) 


There are no timetables for these things, and so many have it so.much.worse. I'm feeling totally overwhelmed with family and friends now homeless and in far worse shape than we are. And, so I try not to complain. I try to suck it up and boil water, take a camp shower in our cold bathroom, go to work, have to leave at 3, only to get back here and sit in the relative dark. But, it is so hard. I don't want to stay with friends. We need a warm and safe home for us and our cat. We need electricity and heat. We need to be able to get to and from work. The insurance I pay for has been beyond useless. I am frustrated and depressed. We walked down to the FEMA line, I know they won't help, and honestly couldn't stand there to hear the obvious surrounded by people in much more dire situations. 


We are surrounded by suffering far greater than ours. We have a structure and our next meal, and for that I am grateful. But our home feels like a husk in peril, and staying here is just risking too much, mainly our jobs and sanity. This storm has left me feeling gutted. it "spared" my apartment, but not my home.