I've Been Sleeping in the Dark and Cold During Hurricane Sandy, and I've Never Felt Better

Sometimes it takes a hurricane to force you to be by yourself -- and like it.
Publish date:
November 1, 2012
hurricane sandy, power outage

My moving day (out of Queens to the East Village for two weeks before I then relocate out to Great Neck for a few months) started with taking care of a severely hungover friend. I brought her Alka-Seltzer and crackers and held her hair back as she puked, and then we laughed at the awfulness of it all. At the same time, Hurricane Sandy was really shaping up. My mom's flight had been canceled (she was going to help me move), and now it was a mad scramble to find someone who could schlep my belongings into Manhattan a few days earlier than expected, before the storm hit.

At the same time all of this was happening, I got a text message from a man who said that if I didn't meet up with him, "Plan B is to troll your blog." The gnarly undercurrent of that vague threat somehow seemed to fit with the puke and the hurricane theme. "Love and light," I said to my puking friend. "Love and light. Onward."

Things started to look up when I found an angel of a friend who helped me move my SUV's worth of possessions on such short notice. My angel moving-friend said he always helps people in need to give back to the good moving-karma he's received -- and thank God for that. He completely saved my butt, and I will happily move him 20 times if he ever needs it. Seriously. So grateful.

As the wind and rain started up from the hurricane and public transit shut down, I told that friend to leave me because he had done enough. And I started the slow process of schlepping my trash bags of possessions up to the sixth-floor walkup where I'm apartment sitting for a few weeks before heading out to Great Neck. Halfway through my carrying up the bags, floor after floor after floor, a young man appeared and said he wanted to help me because his gym was closed, and this would be a way to get exercise. My legs and arms were shaking by this point, and he was Angel #2 appearing for the day.

When the hour-long, body-aching ordeal ended, I collapsed on my friend's bed and tried to feel excited and energetic. I was having trouble, though. Lately I've felt very flat affect about everything. Not depression even. But just a lack of wonder that scares me. A lack of excitement.

Then the hurricane really hit. Crashing against the windows, tree limbs falling all around outside. The power went out. And then all the phone lines. I heard a knock on the door. It was the young man who helped me carry my stuff up the six flights earlier. He was carrying two candles. "Here you go," he said. "I brought you candles. Please let me know if you need anything." I was floored -- and so grateful. New Yorkers, man. They never fail to surprise you with their love and kindness. I lit the candles and found myself staring at the little sign I had propped up next to an angel figurine. "What Are You Waiting For?" it read. Indeed.

It was like a question I needed to pose to myself. "What are you waiting for to feel excited and grateful about your life? What are you waiting for so that you will actively choose to fill yourself up with love and joy rather than fear and darkness?"

What was I waiting for?

The next night, I returned to Queens for my last night sleeping there so I could coordinate donations I was making the next day. I carried my little comforter to take with me on the journey. I felt antsy and restless and called a friend who got me sober years ago, who is insanely accomplished and busy. He talked to me as if he had all the time in the world. I don't even remember half the things that he said, but his spirit was the most infectious part of the conversation. It was like a candle. He said, as I went through some of the gross alienation I was feeling, that he heard me and related so much. "I feel that, too. It's a gift for me to be able to talk to you like this, too. It's great to know we're both not alone." Before speaking to him, I hadn't even realized how depleted my energy reserves of positivity were, but when I got off the phone, it was like I had been to a Tony Robbins seminar or something.

I went to bed, and instead of feeling lonely, I invoked the abilities I learned when I became a reiki master. I put my hand to my head, skin to skin, and I asked God to let his healing flow through me. I envisioned Archangel Michael wrapping his arms around me. And I slept so peacefully.

When I woke up, it was time for my last few hours spent in Queens. Time to donate my bed, two bookshelves and countless bags of possessions to my friend Father Jude, who heads up All Saints Church in Harlem. He was also excited to take my Sacred Heart Jesus, and I'm so glad. All in all, it probably adds up to thousands of dollars worth of possessions, but I just can't keep carting them from place to place. Instead of feeling like a loss, it felt so good and freeing to give him so much. "I'm dedicating mass to you, Mandy," Father Jude said. "May God bless you and keep you. Thank you, my dear best friend Mandy."

After Father Jude left, it took me almost an hour to find a cab that was willing to take me back to the East Village, where all the traffic lights are down and many cabs aren't even willing to venture. The young cab driver who picked me up said, "I'm going to lose money on this because traffic is so backed up, but we've got to help each other out, right? Now, see, look right out over the bridge at the city there. With the power outage below the 30s, half the city is completely dark at night. I've never seen anything like it. It's beautiful, isn't it?"

His attitude was, too.

There's so much to give -- words, an attitude, a taxi ride, a candle, a bed -- so much we all have to give every time loneliness or depression enters in like a crushing weight to the heart, and we need only ask one thing.

What are you waiting for?


Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.