First, please send prayers and any tangible help you can to coastal NYC- my hometown of Staten Island, as well as the Jersey Shore, Southern Long Island, and low-lying areas of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan are in really bad shape. People lost their lives and homes, and many are without basic necessities.
All in all, my four days without power and heat is nothing to get worked up about. Everyone’s safe and unharmed and really that’s all that matters.
Luckily, my town had some big Halloween events, including our FANTASTIC PARADE last weekend, so we got to do great stuff like this ahead of the storm, even if trick-or-treating was a no-go.
The storm and my local community’s response to it illustrates a few Fatherhood, Work and Family issues I’d like to highlight.
Leading up to and during the storm, my thoughts were not on work or money or politics or any other concerns. It was on what is always a father’s #1 priority- the health and safety of his family. Sometimes, priorities get clouded- emergencies help make them clear.
Unstructured Family Time
During the storm, Amy, Nick and I played Rack-o and Telestrations (two great family board games) by candlelight. It was really great. We were all very in the moment enjoying each other. I didn’t once think of checking email or work items- I couldn’t even if I wanted to. It was kinda a relief. Maybe this is a reminder to be more present during family time, and let work emails and the mental “to do” list go during family time. (see this post for more on this theme)
Well, for me, this was easy. My workplace is shut down (and is still without power). Since I work at a college that is responsible for the safety of many resident students, work always puts safety first, and it is still doubtful whether classes will resume on Monday. My only work stress was my thwarted attempts to email my students about how work will be made up and how the upcoming class schedule would be adjusted.
Amy had to go back to rehearsal in NYC on Thursday. She drove in late Wednesday night and is staying with a friend in midtown until at least Sunday. It’s good to have friends.
Friends & Family Networks
On Tuesday, after the winds died down, we spent the day at Neil and Rita’s, house (some of our best friends who also live in Nyack). Nick and his buddy Lucas got to run around with flashlights, and several families brought their refrigerator food that wouldn’t last much longer and we cooked it all (yay, gas ovens!), having a really good time. Tuesday night, we had Lucas and Jesse (another of Nick’s bff’s) over for a sleepover.
On Wednesday, Neil and Rita hosted a brunch to cook the freezer food starting to go bad. Amy tracked down ice, got the last 6 bags in Rockland County, and we gave most of them to friends and neighbors. Our friends Eric and Stephanie had a generator and invited people over to recharge all their electronics.
Wednesday evening, Francesco’s (beer-fire guy) family had a Halloween party for the neighborhood kids (there was a town curfew to prevent trick-or-treating). The 15 rampaging kids in costumes had a blast in their big yard, and we had a 30-40 person, mixed gender beer fire (plus cooking the rest of the freezer food).
All in all, we all rallied as friends, neighbors and parents to help out other families and give our kids a fun Halloween. The network of families and fathers really worked because we all built this network before we needed to lean on it. (See this post for more on this theme)
Wednesday night, Nick and I drove up to my father’s house in the suburbs of Albany. We’re still here having good Grandpa-time and enjoying heat and electricity. I’ve emailed my students, and am currently writing and posting this blog article.
The power’s back on at home for us, but not for Neil, Rita and Lucas. They are living in our house now while we’re away.
All in all, my town and my friends and family got through the storm relatively unscathed. No one can find gasoline, and many are still without power, but we’re all safe, hunkered down, and getting by with a little help from our friends.
I’ll be back with a regular week of blog content next week. Until then, please take care, look in on neighbors, and remember what is really important.