Wednesday, December 28, 2011

That one time I went to Boston for 12 hours

I was looking through the last year of my blog to start drafting a year in review post and was reminded what a pathetic blogger I was this year. The only things I could think of that I didn't blog though, were Thanksgiving and Hurricane Irene.

It all started earlier in the summer when I was thinking about how I've never been to Fenway. Any good baseball fan should see Yankee stadium, Fenway, and Wrigley. I grew up going to Wrigley but still hadn't made it to Fenway. I emailed Brad and it turned out there was really only one weekend the Sox were at home that worked for both of us - late in August. It would be hot, but we decided to at least go to the Fri night game vs the Sat day game.

At the beginning of the week there was a lot of talk of Hurricane Irene that was supposed to hit New York. Everyone was running out to the stores, stocking up on batteries, flashlights, candles, food, and bottled water. I was planning on being at Brad and Nadia's all weekend, and as Friday got closer, I realized I would miss the hurricane. I really didn't sweat it.

Part of the reason I didn't stress was knowing I'd be out of town, the other part was because every winter we have at least one storm that is supposed to be so dramatic and everyone gets all up in a tizzy. While I think it's smart to be prepared, I'm not one to jump on the drama wagon. These storms are never as bad as they predict (at least not in the city.) In fact, since I've lived here I've never once been inconvenienced because of a storm. Every time people have gotten the day off of work for a snow day, I've never been able to partake. If the market is open, the finance world goes on. In almost five years there has only been once the subways have shut down, and I walked the 4+ miles to work.

Anyway, I didn't sweat it.

I left on Friday and was headed up to Boston when I started getting emails like crazy. People from church were forwarding emails around, everyone was making sure everyone had a place to go to weather the storm, church was canceled (never seen that happen in my life), and then came an email that made me sort of scared for the first time. Caroline forwarded an email which stated that beginning at noon on Saturday all subways would be shut down, and depending on the wind levels, bridges and tunnels into the city would shut down as well. If this were the case, there would literally be no way off the island other than to swim. Sort of creepy...

I had already changed my Sunday return bus for Saturday evening because it looked like the Sunday buses might be canceled. Then I started getting alerts from the bus company that they were canceling more and more buses. (At this point they were guessing the storm would hit sometime between Saturday night and Sunday.) I changed my bus again to leave Boston on Saturday at 1pm. This is about the point that I realized I'd be back in New York with no emergency food or water. Like a virgin without oil, I got in touch with Emilee and desperately asked her to pick some things up for me at the grocery store and leave them with my doorman. That Emilee is a saint because the grocery stores were a nightmare.

I finally made it to Boston and quit thinking about the stupid hurricane. Brad picked me up and we went straight to Fenway. I immediately fell in love. Even though it's enemy territory, as a baseball fan you just can't help but be enamored with this charming park. I absolutely loved it and vowed to come back the next year when the Yankees were in town. They were playing the A's who I very quietly rooted for. I would have been louder but I was seriously pretty singled out there.

While I was at the game I received an email letting me know my 1pm bus was now canceled. Crap. I was really paranoid because I didn't feel like I could miss work on Monday. Luckily I was able to secure a spot on the 8am bus, the last one headed into New York that day.

Brad and I got back to a quiet dark house around 11pm and after a long talk with Nadia I finally went to sleep only to wake up to leave five hours later. The worst part of it was Madeline went to bed Friday night knowing her Auntie Rae Rae would be there when she woke up. Except, I wasn't. I was already gone. My heart was totally crushed knowing Nadia would have to try to explain to a three year old why I wasn't there.

On the way to the bus Brad took me to a grocery store because Emilee said our stores were totally picked over. There was no peanut butter, and hardly any bread. I was trying to get food that wouldn't need to be refrigerated and I could make without heat in case the power went out.

I got into town around 1pm on Saturday and it was strange, everyone was out and about as if there wasn't a potential deadly storm headed our way in a few hours. I was worried I was going to have to schlep my stuff the 30+ blocks home, since the subways weren't running anymore, but luckily I found a cab really easily. I later heard on the news that cabs were instructed to pick up any passengers, even if they already had someone, and if you saw a cop car you could hitchhike.

Getting to my neighborhood was a little eery. Windows were boarded and taped up in all the shops. There was a line around the block to get into grocery stores. The movie theater was closed with a sign saying it would reopen in a couple days. It was like a post apocalyptic world.

I was insanely exhausted and just wanted to sleep. I knew I should stay out as long as I could because who knew how long I'd be quarantined, but I gave in to my heavy eyelids and took a nice long nap. The below was the note that greeted me in the elevator of my building.

It wasn't until later that day I really started to feel alone. I hadn't felt nervous or worried at all up until that point. My bishop lives two blocks away. The church which was a safe zone is five blocks away. I've got friends nearby. Everything would be fine. The constant flow of incoming texts, calls, and facebook messages from friends all over checking in on me made me feel really loved. But the nonstop news coverage I had on in the background started to get to me. As I was getting ready for bed that night I realized maybe I should pack a bag in case I needed to leave in the middle of the night. That was a little nerve racking. The way my building wraps around, it would be REALLY hard for my window to break due to wind, so I wasn't really worried, but I still had that thought in the back of my mind. I started feeling lonely because I realized, I really don't know my neighbors, and if I had some sort of problem, it's not like anyone would be looking out for me. I really started thinking about how, if I had a real problem, I couldn't call my parents. There's nothing they can do. I can only recall one other time feeling like that, and it's when I was lost in Queens around 2am without a cab in sight. (Long story, I was still new to the city and got on a wrong bus. It sucked.) Anyway, more and more I was grateful for my membership in the church. My Elder's Quorum President, Relief Society President, and Visiting Teacher had all checked in on me. I guess what made the whole experience a little scary was having to go to bed and knowing that if something was going to happen, it would be when I was sleeping.

I had a hard time staying asleep, waking up every couple hours. When it was about 4am I woke up to pounding rain. It was so eery, knowing we were in the middle of it at that time. Eventually I fell back asleep, and woke up around 9am to sunny skies. I think I said aloud, "That was it??" Honestly, it was so anti climactic. I've experienced New York summer thunder storms that seemed worse. We'd been told on the news to stay inside most of the day because there'd be branches falling, but I did step outside my building for a minute to snap the below photo of my street. Only a few fallen branches, nothing major.

I think Mayor Bloomberg did a great job preparing the city. I don't think it's crazy to prepare the city for the worst, it just drives me nuts when people get hysterical before it's necessary. If I heard, "Batten down the hatches" one more time I think I would have lost it.

The best news is, I was able to partake in my first ever "snow day." As a kid I lived in Chicago for six years and never once had a day off school for the snow, and as previously mentioned I never have had a day off due to the snow in the city. But since the hurricane really did destroy Long Island and some of the other boroughs, a lot of the mass transit was down, so our office closed on Monday.

Monday was an absolutely gorgeous day. Emilee, Brittany, and I rode our bikes down the Hudson to the Shake Shack, and then went to Central Park with Ashley as well. It was the perfect unexpected day off.


Kambria said...

Love this post. Great pictures! I was so scared for you guys during the hurricane and so happy when it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Happy everyone is safe and got a day off lol <3

Elise said...

It was kind of fun to read this so long after the event happened. There was so much news coverage (even here!) right up before the Hurricane and the after? Nothing. So I liked reading your recap later, when I had basically forgot that this even happened. And hooray for unexpected days off!

Michelle said...

Yeah, it is fun to read the perspective of someone who was there. I remember having the tv on watching the coverage and thinking of you several times.