Like graduations, hurricanes are infrequent opportunities for massive debauchery. Hurricanes blow into town with as much pomp and circumstance, elicit concerned phone calls of “Good luck,” and “Are you going to be okay,” and “Fill the bathtub with water,” and ultimately keep the real world at bay for another couple of days. At least, this was my experience of that trick Irene.
If you are anticipating a hipsters versus nature horror story, allow me to lower your expectations: Hurricane Irene expressed her wrath in Brooklyn solely through heavy rains. In patches. I remember some humidity was involved, and the wind blew a little bit. However, to atone for its embarrassing mishandling of the 2009-2010 blizzards, the city of New York shut down all the bridges, tunnels, and public transportation between the boroughs and advised massive evacuations to “higher ground.”
This meant two things: first, all of my professional obligations were canceled for TWO DAYS STRAIGHT. I was teaching at the time; my classes were called off. I worked as a fake barista at the time, my coffee shop closed. I was in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the time and our TECH WEEKEND was postponed. Do you realize what that means?! Two solid days of mind-numbing twelve-hour rehearsals wiped off the face of the production calendar!
Second, Anna, Justin, and I made the executive decision to evacuate about 30 blocks north to a friend’s place. We demolished a 7/11, and along with the plentiful rations of beer and pasta and coffee we also stuffed bedding, movies, and art supplies into the trunk of my Yaris.
We spent the next forty hours in Fort Greene weathering the storm. I was drunk for at least 28 of those hours. Activities included cooking, drinking, eating, watching movies, drinking, playing Catch Phrase, making arts’n’crafts, drinking, wrestling on the air mattress dubbed ‘the bird’s nest’, drinking, and a rousing game of indoor hide-and-seek. Which I won, because Justin never even suspected I could fit behind the flat screen on the mantle!
After surviving day 1, I woke up around noon to a text from Mom, sent at 7:42am:
“Did the power go out? Are you in the eye of the storm, and the worst is yet to come? How is the car? Not safe to drive. Water still rising, I bet.”
To which I replied, as I am wont to do, “NO MOM”.
Oh, Irene. I remember you fondly. You showered us with a dilettante’s disaster, and heralded the mildest of winters. You allowed multitudes of 20-something Brooklynites to relive childhood without involving kickball, rompers, or nannying. If only every storm was perfect like you.