Brooklyn after Hurricane Sandy -
I took a walk around the perimeter of Prospect Park the Thursday morning after the storm to shake my cabin fever; I was blessed not to be directly affected by the storm, but even in my neighborhood there were places that looked like the losing boxer after a fight. There were trees on almost every block with branches snapped or the whole tree toppled over - some cracked like used toothpicks, others like someone had grabbed and pulled them up like a bad weed. I felt like I was walking through ether that morning; with the cold, crisp air periodically hitting my face like cold water slapping me back to reality. Nothing was like it was - the landscape, the air, the city.
It made me think -
About my last entry in Poz blog, joking about the daily (and daunting) routine of traveling on the subway, my attempt in satire to share about those “tin cans with a motor.” Then I walked to the Church Avenue subway station, saw the yellow tape and the Transit police stopping anyone who tried to enter. As I passed by, I recalled the videos of the subway stops, like the South Ferry station, that were turned into fish tanks. I thought about how I still take so much for granted, that this “megapolis” called The Big Apple is impenetrable, Hurricane Irene wasn’t so bad, that the media is just hype, and New Yorkers will just get wet, hop on the subway, and continue “as if...”
As I walked, I thought of my favorite Psalm and recited it over and over, as I do when I am in crisis or at a loss: “Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil...”
I wanted my subways back. I wanted my city back.
I then thought -
We all go through our storms, our surges of horror and pain. Often we take for granted the blessings we possess or that we can keep things moving without any thought we can forget, and in a blink of an eye, it can all be gone. As someone with “hiv,” I rarely allow myself that “luxury,” knowing what this dis-ease can do and being a witness to its wrath. But somehow, there was a part of me that forgot that it doesn’t have to be the “hiv” that could take me down, I am a survivor, but the life boat could still capsize:
When I wrote in July, I had taken for granted that I could write, even with an injured wrist. Then, eventually, I wasn’t able to grip and hold a pen; even typing was beyond painful. I knew that I had to take care of this (I was already treated for carpal tunnel), so I could do my progress notes and not lose my job, type my blog, write my poetry. I was becoming tired, overwhelmed, depressed; I couldn’t do all that I thought I should. I wanted to be able to write with my fountain pen again, type on my laptop, and keep up with life. As I hopped on the Church Avenue bus, I recalled how I went to the doctor about my wrist; he referred me to a rheumatology specialist, who, after reviewing the results of my blood work, found a protein in my blood. (This had nothing to do with my wrist.) I then was told I had to see a hematologist/oncologist. (A what-what?! Oh-oh.) I went to the hematologist, he told me that I needed a bone marrow biopsy; on one end, it could be benign, on the other, it could be multiple mylanoma. (Wha-the-#@%$?!) I’ve been fine for years, taking care of myself, medication was doing okay, the “hiv” was chilling, what the hell now? I took for granted that now that the “hiv” was “playing nice,” I can keep it moving. Nothing else could happen... I didn’t see this “surge” coming... I had my own storm.
I got off the bus, returned to my home, thinking of the past week’s horrors. Sandy, New York’s Nero, left havoc in its path and humbled the toughest New Yorker (and “Jersey-ite”.) Some took warnings for granted, some were not informed properly, homes were up in flames, families losing possessions, hospitals relocating patients, people living in the cold and darkness, with no way to communicate; the loss of the infrastructure; of electricity, phones, the loss of life... all the suffering; everyone was caught in the Super-storm surge, including me. And we all are weathering Sandy and our own storms in our own way. We will recover; we will persevere.
Please vote and stay safe.