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The Morning After
I have lived in New York City for almost six years.
In that time, I have never felt unsafe or scared.
I never felt unsafe walking home to my first apartment on East 102nd Street, naively listening to my headphones at 3 AM as I came home from the bar.
I never felt scared running along the East River at 6 AM in the winter, when the sun was far from up and the running path was practically empty.
I never felt at risk running around the unlit Bridle Path, and I never felt afraid when my old office building in the Financial District reeked of gas and had to be evacuated.
In the years that I have called NYC home, I have always felt like this city had my back.
So yesterday, when my city came under attack by a reckless hurricane, I was — for the first time in six years — scared.
For the first time in six years, I felt unsafe.
Brian and I are very, very lucky. We live in a high rise building on the Upper East Side and seem to be in one of very few areas that never lost power and didn’t suffer any damage.
But as the wind gusts picked up throughout the day and the sky got dark in the later hours, I felt helpless and out of control (something I don’t do well with). There was nothing we could do to ensure safety for ourselves and our friends other than staying inside and waiting it out.
The wind was so loud against the windows that we could barely hear the news — which, despite nothing changing for a long time, we couldn’t seem to turn off — and our building was swaying to the point that I felt nauseous.
But we were — and are — fine.
Our city, however, is not fine.
So much of the city is under water. Peoples’ homes are massively damaged and very few people seem to have power. There is an incredible amount of devastation on our tiny island of Manhattan.
Sandy gave us a beatdown.
I never anticipated calling myself a New Yorker. My good friend Lauren, who I met in college, is a New Yorker. She was born in Manhattan, grew up here for most of her early childhood and then moved just outside the city to Westchester county. She can proudly — and confidently — call herself a New Yorker.
Some people say you have to live in NYC for 10 years before you call yourself a New Yorker. Others say you’re not a New Yorker unless you were born here.
I was OK with that for a long time. I don’t want to step on any New Yorkers’ toes. Those people are scary and territorial.
But when I woke up this morning, afraid to get up because I didn’t want to see the how badly the city had been hit, I felt it.
I’m a New Yorker now.
I was born in Pennsylvania, I was raised in New Hampshire and I went to college in Connecticut. I’ve only lived here for six years and I still get lost in the West Village sometimes.
I’m a New Yorker though.
And New Yorkers are damn tough. You’ll see. I mean, there were nurses carrying NICU babies down flights of stairs last night, during the hurricane, as they manually controlled their breathing and evacuated them from the NYU hospital. That is downright heroic.
This storm took a major toll on Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs. Our island may be small, but it is mighty, and the people here will be working tirelessly to get NYC back up and running.
Then there’s the marathon.
People are trolling the New York Road Runners Facebook page today, demanding to know what’s happening with the marathon this weekend.
And I get it. I trained for this race, too (um, kind of), and I want to run it.
I also know how badly this city just got hit. Many neighborhoods are on life support and there’s a lot of cleanup and repair work to be done. Homes have been lost and lives have been lost.
So I don’t know what will happen with the marathon. It’s on my mind, but it’s certainly not my main concern right now, and I don’t think it deserves to be the city’s main concern right now.
I do know that if the marathon does happen, it’ll be because people worked their asses off to make it happen for us.
I also know that if the New York City Marathon goes on as scheduled, it’ll be one hell of a celebratory 5-borough block party.
But let’s just wait and see, OK? I’ll be patient if you’ll be patient. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, stay inside and keep tapering.
New York, I love you. You’re going to be just fine.
(And thank you to everyone who keeps checking in. We have electricity and enough Halloween candy to last us a very long time. If any NYC friends need anything, we’re just 28 flights up and are happy to have you. Be careful out there.)