Monday, I had a bit of a day, you might say.
It’s been a weird couple of days.
I’m not sure why I’m writing here, instead of journaling privately like I normally do. I’m reminded of my obsessive diarist roots; my first blogs were all diaries with very little actual substance. Although, there was one where I was anonymously cataloging my adventures in the Lower East Side about 10-11 years ago, and when I took it down in a panic of being found, I got the sweetest fan mail. A guy in London shared that he’d miss the blog; he and his wife used to read it separately over lunch, and then discuss the posts over dinner. It was their soap opera. (And mine, haha.) Anyway, I often need to process heavy s*** out loud, and out loud somehow equals online now.
I started to feel weird yesterday, two days after Battening the Hatch™, that I didn’t feel normal again. I was agitated and overwhelmed, writing aggressive emails to coworkers and wondering how I was going to get work done. People would tell me that “work can wait,” but I kind of didn’t want it to. One, because I’m a freelancer, and done work means “get paid.” Which is becoming slightly urgent. Two, work waiting meant that things weren’t normal. I wanted them to be normal. I felt like crap, with a very achy body from the physicality of what we went through, piled on with some inflamed joints (I think due to thyroid issues) and a scratchy throat from a cold that’s been threatening to invade for about a week. I want to soldier on to prove to myself, more than any of my clients, even, that Everything Is Just Fine. I know intellectually that that’s ridiculous.
I feel guilty feeling like crap because there are millions who are much worse off that little ol’ me. Breezy Point, Far Rockaway— hundreds of homes destroyed by fire. Homes washed away on the shores. Millions without power. Many of those also without running water. In Haiti, they can’t catch a f***ing break at all. We never lost power, we have water and internet, we didn’t sustain any damage. I am one lucky grrl.
When I shared some of this on Facebook, a bunch of people told me to imagine myself as a friend— would I expect her to be over the shock of fearing losing her house and being in mortal danger so soon? Of course not. But maybe a little. I can be kind of a secretly heartless person. I am, however, laughing that a catchphrase I think I got from my brother— “Life’s hard, get a helmet”— it came in very handy on Monday.
Actually, I still haven’t unpacked the go-bag or put the bike helmet away. All the tools and plywood are still strewn about the back of the house, and the guest bedroom is filled with the contents of the closet. Cleaning up feels like a herculean task, even though there’s not much to clean up at all. Just thinking about it makes my chest tighten and tears well up.
I do have the urge to paint a sign on the closet door that says “Anti-Narnia.”
I started wondering if I’d made too big a deal of “roof might leave the house if the hole stays open.” How probable was that, really? Were we all freaked out for nothing? I keep googling for answers, and most point to the fact that it was indeed a real threat. I don’t know how well the house is constructed for sure; I mean, it seems good, but it was also shaking in those big gusts. I can’t kick the fact that maybe I didn’t have to freak the eff out, though. Why is that?
I have the urge to go out and see what the city looks like, and try to experience some of the full effect of the storm. But leaving my cocoon feels emotionally dangerous. I think of all the other NYC disasters and tragedies I’ve been through— 9/11, of course; the 2003 blackout, to some extent; the Christmas blizzard of 2011— and I think, “You’ve seen enough, let someone else bear witness just this one time.” I feel like I’ll miss something. Like I won’t have all the stories to tell the children I’m not planning on having.
Over the last couple months, I’d scheduled a series of one-right-after-another guests to visit me during the next week for various reasons. (My house is nicknamed the South Brooklyn Home for Wayward Grrls.) All of them generously offered to not stay here if it was going to be too much for me to deal with. I feel the opposite; having far-flung friends (two of them from high school, who I haven’t seen in ages) appear in Thunderdome will be a blessing.
How are you faring out there?