When I was little, one of my favorite games involved planning for impending disaster. I’d imagine that a blizzard was coming, or a tornado, or some other weather-related catastrophe that I’d only heard about in books. I imagined hunkering down in some sort of candlelit cellar, with crates of food and a wool blanket and an oil lamp, the wind howling through the wooden trap door overhead. I always made it just in time. Within seconds, the house above would be torn from the ground or buried beneath feet of snow. But I’d be safe. I saw it coming.--
Since the beginning of the year, New York City has experienced what seems like near-constant storms. Leaving the house often means preparing for a full-blown hike – and so, because I work from home and share an apartment with my friends, I find that these days, I rarely leave during the day unless I have to.
It feels, we often say, like we’re hibernating. Like our year hasn’t started yet. I’ve taken to thinking that I can use this time to prepare for the months ahead: start a project, work on a book proposal, finally get our under-furnished apartment in order.
All this time, I’ve been preparing for the year to start - but at a certain point it hit me that it has started. Are there consequences, I wonder, to waiting out the storm? In hiding out, am I missing out? In over-preparing, am I over-thinking?
I woke up at 4 AM the other day to bits of ice hitting my window. I don’t have curtains yet, and the entire pane was glazed in frost. In a half-dream, the streetlights outside looked like smeared stars. People leaving the bar across the street shrieked and shouted in the rain.
Turns out, the world keeps moving, even when we stop. Even when we’re sleeping. Even when ice starts falling from the sky.
Interesting things, I’ve found, happen in the dark.
A couple weeks ago, a friend hosted a dinner at his loft in Bushwick, a cavernous space with nine-odd bedrooms, an indoor garden, a wood shop, and very poor insulation. We kept our coats on, eating steak and potatoes by candlelight in near-blackness, the loft cat swishing its tail at our ankles.
Later, I sipped ginger tea from a wooden stool in the kitchen, watching as everyone else danced in the dark in the space where we’d just eaten, to music that someone affectionately described as cold and soulless. That somebody was now spinning in circles with a pair of flashlights and a sheet over his head, making bird calls.
One of the girls living in the loft came and joined me. We watched together. “I’m so happy this is my life,” she said.
The bird screeched. I wondered if I was dreaming. No one turned on the lights.