I'm sitting in my apartment overlooking New York Harbor while CNN News plays in the background. They're talking about the effects of Hurricane Irene, they show the cone of possible paths for the storm. NYC is right in the center. Then they show a model of the low-lying areas, where I sit. Then thanks to some nasty-but-incredible software, they can simulate the water rising eight feet (category 2) and then, suddenly my whole neighborhood is flooded.
I look outside. The streets are dry and calm; the water looks calm as well, but almost too calm, like it knows something. Or maybe I'm just hoping that.
I start to feel a surge of adrenaline, the kinda of adrenaline that immediately makes me remember moments from my past. The kind of adrenaline rush that a 35-year-old with an office job rarely feels. You know those moments. Great moments. And I stare into calm water and clear blue sky. I start to picture churning clouds, the sound of wind, and the sight of water densely falling out of the sky. The crisp air. I can breathe that air.
I'm sure the windows will take it, I'm sure they will, but what if they start to rattle, like really really rattle?? oh my god, that would be intense, scary and awesome all at the same time. I would run to the one of the bedrooms, wait to see what happens. Is that glass going to hold? The rattling has gone down, the sea is churning, pouring into Manhattan, now the wind picks up! What if the glass breaks, what happens then? I know exactly what I'd do, I'd plan to get out, I would scurry to the door and go down the hall and down the stairwell. I'd have some bottles of water near the entrance to the apartment is case I need to grab them on the way out. Should I grab them all and bring them with me?? Hmmm, be prudent. Leave some here. Ok, how far down, 10th floor? lobby? seventh floor? seventh floor! the lounge, I'd go to the lounge. There's small crowd here already, a few young mothers with their kids, an elderly couple, several east Asians huddling together. People brought chips and Cokes from their apartment. Everyone is chatting.
The mood in the room is palpable. Peaceful but tense. Some people have taken on tasks. But mostly everyone is chatting. Chatting in a way that people never do. Genuinely and Sincerely. A sincerity that is only possible because nature has blessed us with a moment of nowhere to go and nothing to do. The people are absolutely lovely, because they always are in these situations. More food has arrived. I wish I brought more water.
We are stuck for many hours. Many long hours. We get in touch with family, tell them we're fine. We're actually not "Fine." We're having the best time in ages. People start playing board games. We don't tweet.
And then eventually, the storm will subside. And after still more time, the water level will return to normal levels. And we'll inspect the damage, know that we couldn't have avoided it anyway, and fix what needs to be fixed.
It's so cliche to say this, but in these circumstances, we'll forget what divides us.
And it will be an experience of such magnificence, such singularity, that we'll be telling people about it many years down the road. Repeating the story, not to show off, not to gain ground, but simply to reminisce about the one day that was different from all the other days.