Return To Normalcy (The End Of An Era)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I got up for good around 9:00, checked my email to figure out what was going on at the wine shop, and then I called my boss to let him know I'd be able to make it in at my normal time.

Over the next hour I cleaned out my fridge, pitching a number of items that hadn't made it, wiping down the interior while it was mostly empty, and returning all of the food from the fire escape to a more moderated temperature.  I took a long hot shower, still trying to warm up from the chill of the previous night.  The tile floor in the kitchen, which I'd been walking around on all morning, remained quite cold as well.

I had the remainder of the egg salad I'd made a few days prior and another bowl of cereal, nearly finishing off the milk, which had endured in the cool weather outside.  I checked in with family and friends to let everyone know I was all right, and then I got the blog going for real, establishing the site and getting my first two posts up.

My morning mostly consisted of getting things back in order, and before long, everything seemed to be back to the way it was.  Most notably, I returned to work. This seemed to bring a close to my experience that had started with leaving work in preparation for the storm nearly a week before.

On the walk there, I saw a revived Greenwich Village.  There was a tree or two fewer, and an occasional traffic light remained out, but foot and vehicle traffic was bustling as usual.  As I'd imagined, the change back to everyday circumstance was sobering.  Like the return of NYU kids to The Greenwich Village campus each August, I felt as if the crowds of "New Yorkers" were returning to a place they did not entirely belong, infecting the neighborhoods I came to feel a particular ownership over, but just as with those experiences, I fell right back into the fold, becoming one with the masses.

I heard from many customers at work who were split between staying after the storm, toughing it out, and leaving.  Some stayed for a day or two but couldn't cope, leaving when it became apparent there was no immediate change coming.  Hotels, at least in New York, were hard to come by, and some who wanted to leave weren't able to find a place to spend the few days.  Many of our Gramercy customers lost water too, and that was really the breaking point that forced those who left to get out.  One man had a newborn baby too, and he simply said, he didn't recommend trying to get through five days under those conditions.  Those with kids or on the top floors of high-rises definitely had the toughest time.

With the return to work, it seemed like life was back to normal.  One week ago, I prepared for a lazy day off of school.  What I got was an unforgettable week of walking around New York, living through a news story that captured the attention of the country and perhaps will remain in our collective consciousness for much longer.  Like Hurricane Katrina, Sandy seems to be a wakeup call for action to prevent future "once-in-a-generation" hurricanes from becoming a global-warming induced pattern.

Whether any action—like the plans outlined in The New York Times—is taken remains to be seen, but the memories of this experience will certainly stay with me.  Until another adventure finds me with reason to write, my shared observations will go on hiatus.  Thanks again to everyone for engaging with me on my adventures, and I look forward to their future continuance soon.

A pedestrian traffic light at Thompson Street and Washington Square South remains out.

Washington Square.

5th Avenue is back to its usual bustle.

So is this intersection at 14th Street and Union Square West, which I photographed lifeless, only few days before.

Con Edison remained entrenched with trucks on the northwest side of Union Square.

Broadway at 18th Street, back to its usual weekend self.

Tape remained across windows on 20th Street, no longer necessary to prevent damage during the storm.

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