There have been many impressive photographs today, scenes from Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey. I’ve never been to any of these places, so I view the photos abstractly, without any personal grief attached. Before the storm I never walked that crumpled boardwalk, I never shopped in the below ground shops that now resemble a salty swimming pool. I see the subway and can ponder the feat of engineering it will take to pump that much water back into the ocean, without also having to wonder how I will manage to get to work sans functioning mass transit. Yet I look at the pictures and my brain tells me those stories. Part of me wants to capture in a story, not a description of the storm surge, but the emotion of one. This huge force beyond human control sweeps in and rearranges the lives of millions. I, three quarters of a continent away, can ponder these things because I have light, heat, health, a place to sleep, and normal work in the morning. As do many of the east coast residents, even in Manhattan. That last is a miracle of modern meteorology. We knew the storm was coming and so the people prepared.
Along with the disaster stories, today has other ones. The guy on twitter who deliberately spread misinformation during a natural disaster and then discovered that the internet had the power to unmask him. Criminal charges are likely to follow. Nerds and Geeks everywhere reacted to the news that Disney bought Lucasfilm and there will be another Star Wars movie. Thus Princess Leia becomes the newest Disney princess. The publishing houses of Random House and Penguin are merging, causing yet another round of laments (or rejoicing) that this is sign that publishing as we know it is changing forever. Some news cycles are busier than others. Stories that would normally dominate all the conversational space for days or weeks are only getting a passing glance. Ordinary stories pass untold because people were too busy focusing on the extraordinary.
My story of today had a bright blue sky and sunshine. I followed my task list, accomplished goals, and was able to appreciate how my kids are continually growing into amazing and responsible people. Today contained pieces of larger stories, some of which don’t get told on the internet because my children do not deserve the experience of having their friends read all the embarrassing things their mother wrote about them. I’m just grateful that there were no storms for me or the kids today. Instead we talked costumes and Halloween. I baked cookies.
I have cookies and three quarters of a continent away there are people who had houses yesterday but don’t anymore. Life is not fair. But I hold the memory of other stories. This is not the first hurricane, nor the first storm surged city. Years from now this will be another survival story in a city which has weathered much deadlier disasters. During next few days smaller stories will emerge from the massive damage. We will get to hear of heroes and courage. We will see people work hard overtime hours trying to put everything back together. Some small scale tragedies will emerge and somehow because the size of them is comprehensible, these small tragedies will drive home how big this storm was. There will be laughter, ride sharing, and people gathering in the street next to electrical outlets so that they can charge their cell phones. These things have already begun. This storm is done. It has left behind story fodder, whether we assemble stories of hope or despair is up to us.