I glanced at the clock at exactly 6:48pm.
In 12 minutes, all bridges and tunnels would be closed to leave Brooklyn.
In 12 minutes, there was no other way to get out.
At 8pm, the high tide came rolling in. The East River jumped the barricade and surged down a nearby street. It started small. It looked like a puddle. Within a mere 20 minutes, it looked like this:
And that’s when I started to freak out a little.
But then I spotted neighbors standing on the street, and I felt better in a we’re-in-this-together way. I told him that while the windows were rattling the hardest, listening to him play his violin through the wall is what soothed me the most. To which he responded:
“Yeah. Just like the violin played until the end when the Titantic was sinking.”
Mmm. I hadn’t thought of that.
And with a huge gust of wind that pushed us all five feet, the East River moved closer to our house. We all laughed uncontrollably at this point.
Because we were terrified.
The Violin Player evacuated to a friend’s house away from Zone A after that.
In my lifetime, I have been through a Category 5 Hurricane Andrew, a Category 3 Hurricane Opal, and Category 3 Hurricane Irene just last year, but while Hurricane Sandy was weaker in strength, it was one of the strangest acting and unpredictable of them all.
There were large periods of quiet. Then suddenly, gusts would come out of nowhere and rattle the windows and shake the building. The darkness loomed for three days. At its most quiet time, the river crept in silently and within moments cars were disappearing under it.
I live at the crossroads. I stood there where the four corners meet and shook my hand that has my Great-Grandmother’s ring beside my Grandmother’s ring beside my Mother’s ring. All three generations are on my right hand. And I shook it, rattled the bells of my Mother’s ring for protection against the river and hummed an old song. Calm the river. Soothe the river. Keep the water away from my home.
I drew a path at the crossroads, an invisible wall with my ancestor’s rings on my hand. I was just trying to maintain some sense of stability, some sense of strength, in a moment at which I felt powerless against nature.
I spent the rest of the night in the big window alcove in my apartment, watching over the darkened city, keeping watch over the growing river in the street.
The Empire State Building was lit like a beacon in the raging storm. I whispered against the rattling glass window, all the love and protection in my soul, every ounce that I could muster, for the city I love the most in the world and for all the people in it.
To only hope it would be heard on the raging winds….