There we stood, before a blackened staircase, my pocketbook clutched in my hand like a stress ball and scarf tied sloppily around my neck. Barefaced and hair a mess, the fear of the unknown crippled my toes. The power had been out since Monday and wax stains from burned candles were splattered like spilled paint on my boots. It’s Thursday.
We were warned about Hurricane Sandy all week-long and everyone in Zone A was encouraged to evacuate. We decided to stick it out in our high-rise apartment building. It’s not like we had anywhere else to go anyway… Our families are residents of Staten Island and New Jersey. And, to be honest, we didn’t really believe all the hype, post Hurricane Irene, which had come and gone and barely left the contents on our balcony displaced. 13 flights of steps stood between us and the ground and all I could think about was the dark. I’m 24-years-old and yes, I am afraid of the dark. “Come on,” he said, before placing his hand in mine. “I ain’t gonna let anything happen to you,” he continued. We stepped into the darkness together.
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After clumsily skipping down what felt like hundreds of steps, we emerged from the tunnel. A branch from a near-by dismembered tree laid across the our path. We jumped over it then looked at each other and laughed. From the top floor of our home I could see that my parents had lights. As we trekked across puddles of water, scattered garbage, mud and homeless leaves, the devastation of Sandy was clear but it would be a few days before I would know just how much Sandy let her presence be known. My mother and father greeted us with warm smiles and happy hugs. As she flipped a pancake on the griddle she said “Eat a hearty breakfast because you never know when you’ll have your next meal!” That reminded me…all the food in our refrigerator had spoiled…what were we going to eat later? Food wasn’t the only thing on our minds…something as simple as a warm shower seemed so far-fetched. On top of that, having no heat was starting to take its toll on my body and my voice was raspier than Toni Braxton’s. “You can stay at your moms and I’ll stay at my grandmothers. You don’t need to be in these conditions,” he suggested. “Where you sleep, I sleep,” I replied.
It was the first time I had watched TV in days. The last time I checked, there was a crane hanging from a building in Midtown. Did it fall? Oddly, there were no reports about it. Instead, news of two missing children swept away by water occupied the screen. There was a gas crisis happening and I didn’t even know.
For the same reasons I moved out in the first place, my boyfriend and I headed back home. This time with a flashlight, some extra candles and full stomachs. Going down was easy, going back up…not so much. We reached the top floor and collapsed into our bed. I looked at him. He’s so handsome, I thought. The way his broad shoulders extend into two toned arms and a his strong chest rises and falls with each breath, made me tingle inside.
I suddenly yearned for the romanticism of sex by candlelight. He glanced over and me and smiled. Was he thinking the same thing as me? Was he craving to pass time the same way I was? I mean what else would a couple with no electricity, money, water or cellphones do? I was watching his lips closely as they separated and the sound flowed. “Remember when…,” he began to speak. I remember, I thought. He had told me that story time and time again, but that didn’t matter. I listened closely, laughing at the jokes like it was the first time I heard them. Talk. Yeah…we talked for hours. About our childhood, adolescent years and the time we first met. I had the memories, but I forgot about our love story.
Hurricane Sandy did a lot of damage but it did my relationship a lot of good. I realized how much my boyfriend loved me. At a time without flat irons, makeup and enough light to choose a decent ensemble, he still looked at me with open eyes. He held the candle while I lit the other. He remained my protector and we weathered the storm together.
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