Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Surviving a Storm, Irreverently

Last night we, our extended family, and our friends all weathered a mega-storm with little more than inconvenience. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

What did we do while waiting for the lights to go out? We sat down to my awesome chicken and white bean chili, defrosted in a microwave that still worked just fine. Serenaded by chilling and discordant winds, we watched the trees do their Bacchanalian dances. Lovely and scary, all at once. We strove to keep Benjy seated at the table. And we worried aloud about what the night would bring for millions of our fellow Northeasterners.

Then I did it. I just couldn't help it. It came from nowhere. "Lars," I said with a grin. "You are Eurotrash. Going out to the hotel pool at six a.m. with all the other Germans, laying your towel on the best pool chair before Brits wake up and get down there."

Lars looked startled, and then he laughed. He knew what game I was playing.

"Anna, you Ugly American," he retorted. "Always complaining to the waiter that the coffee's not strong enough, like it is at home in the States."

We practically hit the floor laughing. Our kids look mystified. (Neither of us has ever lived up to the stereotype, so they had no idea what we were talking about.)

Saskia, always with an opinion, said, "The two of you are an embarrassment to the species."

Benjy agreed. "Yeah, what she said."

Then we left all the dishes on the table and sat down to watch some irreverent TV (South Park, anyone?). And we laughed some more.

You know, we had a tragic storm here in the northeast. Our family survived. So did the Hellacious Hound, and the Rockin' Hermit Crabs. (The fishies didn't, but their sad demise preceded Sandy.)

Many families were not so lucky. We talked about those families today. The folks perched on top of their trailers all night in a New Jersey trailer park while the waters rose about them. How utterly terrifying. The family whose child, the husband whose wife, the kids whose grandparent, were crushed by falling trees, or who drowned. Queens -- Queens! -- was burning this morning. A conflagration of scores of apartment buildings. I told that to Benjy and he said, "In 1660, London burned down." And I replied, "Benjy, this is here and now. This is close to us."

Our hearts break for those people, even as we feel gratitude that not even one shingle blew off our roof.

We were lucky that last night we could be silly. Eurotrash, Ugly American, South Park, are nothing to those people who have to rebuild their lives. How fortunate we were that they meant something to us in the middle of Sandy's fury.

Life can be so damn good, even in the face of others' pain. I'm still wrapping my mind around that one. 

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