Saturday

The View from the Terrace: New York City When the Lights Went Out

I turned on my computer this morning, the first time I could successfully switch on anything since Monday night. That was the time, of course, when the storm came and the lights went out over Lower Manhattan. Late on Wednesday, after my flashlight failed, I realized I could repower my flashlight with the batteries from the computer mouse and keyboard. They weren't doing me any good anyway.

Every night this week I walked out on the terrace to look at this scene. I marveled at the darkness and the distant light of One World Trade Center down to the south. The nights were uncommonly still and serene, though I could hear sirens. Sometimes I could see stars, and the full moon was so bright at one point that it illuminated the buildings across the street and taller buildings in the distance. I liked it when my neighbors above me directed their flashlights on the buildings. The lights reminded me of Batman signals.

I suppose this picture provides a sort of Rorschach test of how people see New York City. Many people would find terror in this picture. Some might imagine looting or opportunities for unspeakable crimes. I never thought those things.

I rather imagined all of it - the fictional city, the televised city, and the real world city going on behind me. Back inside, my neighbors were walking up and down many flights of stairs in darkened hallways. They were shining flashlights and carrying buckets of water to their apartments. We soon learned we needed water for everything. We were a little shell-shocked, our little city, and we were really funny, because we had to be. Yesterday, the most popular topic of conversation was our collective exhaustion.

Yes, we learned things this week. The city is fragile and vulnerable and a candidate for a future Atlantis.

But come on. What's not elegant about this picture? Every New Yorker knows they look good in black.

Image by Walking Off the Big Apple from November 1, 8:10 p.m.
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