November 24, 2012

After Being Tossed About, the City Dresses Up Again

A week or so ago, in the early evening of a fine day, I was in a cab heading north on 6th Avenue. The traffic came to a standstill. Still reeling from the effects of the storm that engulfed the city - for the hurricane seemed to hit many people like myself on a psychic level - I assumed the traffic jam was due to a tunnel closure or another storm-compromised infrastructure. So I inquired about the delay, and the driver said, "It's always like this at this time." Seeking clarification, I asked, "What 'time' do you mean?" He turned around to look at me, as if in the manner of someone looking at a lost soul or perhaps at a crazy person. "It's the holidays, madam."



Really. You have got to be kidding. The holidays in New York.

I had seemed to have forgotten this. 



The storm's arrival, almost a month ago, had delivered the first blow to my prolonged state of semi-unconsciousness, living with the lights out and all that, but the recovery took more time than I care to contemplate. After the storm, there was an inexorable march of events, big and small - the demands of commuting uptown to work, a presidential election, piled up laundry, a brief nor' easter that even brought snow, the inexplicable sudden crashing of Microsoft Word, friends with needs, meeting perfectly wonderful strangers, unmet deadlines, and many unanswered emails. For someone who considers herself more or less productive, I felt like all I had to show for myself this past month was a handful of decent pictures. 



But through all matter of personal and urban chaos, I walked. I walked everywhere -  by overblown trees, boarded up shops, closed museums, and many places that were perfectly fine. I had to walk. Five years or so ago, I decided to title this website "Walking Off the Big Apple," not "Walking the Big Apple," but "Walking OFF the Big Apple," because the city is hard sometimes, and you have to walk it off. I found some good places to walk, and in time, I will share.



It was really gut-wrenching to know that so many places I love were so hurt by the storm. Not one place that I had written about in recent months got away unscathed from the tempest. Prospect Park lost many trees. The South Street Seaport Museum flooded up to five feet in its lobby, and not just with water but with an oily mess. Staten Island was tragically hard hit. And Red Hook, Breezy Point, Battery Park, and the Rockaways. Don't even get me started on my beloved Coney Island where people had to take flight to the elevated train tracks so as to avoid being washed out to sea in the storm surge. 


The month has been exhausting, so that explains the cab.



So, there in the cab on 6th Avenue, I began to wake up from my state of fractured consciousness. I looked out the window and saw sparkling lights hung from the street lamps. As with the storm, I realized that bits and pieces of my psyche had been tossed up in the air and come down in new places, and I'm guessing I'm not the only one. I agree with a friend who characterized life during the storm as "a magical time."



But now, it's that other time in New York. 


What time is it?  "It's the holidays, madam."

Oh, yes. I remember now.


Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from November 18-23, 2012. The holidays begin in New York. (I'm fine. Really.)

7 comments:

Eric Taub said...

Welcome back!

tinkyweisblat said...

This is a lovely tribute to the resilient nature of the city--and of this blog's author!

Phil Davis said...

The pictures are lovely. Even in crisis the city is always fascinating. It was good to see you yesterday.

Rose ~ from Oz said...

Beautifully written post, poignant, and the photos are stunning.

Leslie said...

Very moving post, Teri.

Terry at Blue Kitchen said...

Welcome back, Teri. You were among my many New York friends in my thoughts during the terrible storm and its aftermath.

Anton Deque said...

"For someone who considers herself more or less productive, ..."

I have no idea how you manage to do so much and so well. Few people could write so well of their observation and reflection.

H.M. Government issued an edict during the 1940 bombing blitz that has today re-entered our lives on tea mugs, welcome mats and now with several variations based on topical issues; "Keep Calm and Carry On'. I think it's actually good advice.

Best Wishes, Anton