a tale of two cities: manhattan downtown blackout


darlings – we are Very Moved – we saw this sign (below), inviting refugees from downtown blackout and Power-less manhattan to step inside the sanctuary of this place of worship and charge our digital devices (and one’s weary spirit to boot)

a spare room – an auditorium adjacent to the church itself (29th + 5th ave) – full of people and power cord strips, using phones and computers and relishing the Delicious Heat and being quiet and resting for a while.

Last night was rather Scary.

We forgot how Dark it gets in Manhattan late Oct and how many hours it would take to trudge back downtown (after a blissful Swim and Shower at the health club up on 63rd – yes – we walked That Far). And we panicked a little at the prospect of a Freezing apartment so went to the movies Big Picture because when one is feeling Low, a french movie about the deeply philosophical nature of the Question of Existence, with a cameo from Deneuve, is always welcomed.

And we had fascinating conversations in Diners.

One with Dermot Brady (we think that was his name, we hesitated to whip out a moleskine and write it down) who is stranded in manhattan due to the hurricane and the 15,000 flights canceled. None back to Ireland. We had the Most interesting conversation. Thank you, Dermot.

And the other – post movie – when we walked back as far as the lower 50s and needed sustenance – only a single seat at the Counter was available, thankfully next to a Fabulous femme d’un certain age, with Carrie Donovan oversized glasses and a Deeply chic silver-gray crop. She was en route to MoMA to see a 1929 silent with Pola Negri (in no other city would one find such people doing this post a hurricane – divine).

Kindness abounds in the dark city. Even where’s there’s light and power and hot coffee and hope and heat (above 28th now) – it feels like a dark city.

But below 28th – shiver – it’s Anarchy.

We managed to hail a coach heading for Staten Island (the busses were all packed and not stopping) and the kind driver dropped us off at E13th somewhere we could not make out in the dark. Just pools of flashlights and – Not Nice – the odd ghoul mask (halloween – scary) – silent streets – nervous souls.
The odd hum from a generator around NYU.

Washington Square padlocked with chains.

And then – as we made our way into pitch black soho – crossing over to 6th at last with, thankfully red lights from cars and NYPD traffic cops with flashlights directing them through unlit stop signs – we heard a Voice:

is that You, angel?

We paused, hoisting our swimming costume bag, all our cables and laptop and devices now-charged, but Heavy on our (narrow) shoulders, and Peered into the dark, hesitating over flashing the torch into a Stranger’s face.


A friend – Peter.

He’d been waiting for a car service for over two hours to take him to a warm apartment in brooklyn but the Mayor’s decree of more than 3 people per car to Cross the Bridge means that taxis have to get multiple fares before proceeding.

So we sat close, pulled our downy coats around us, snuggled deeper into cashmere scarves, and sat on a bench in the dark and had the Loveliest conversation.

There’s something to be said for kindness.

It feels so precious when one is tired and a bit scared.

Peter reached brooklyn (we got his text when we walked uptown just now), you’ll be pleased to know. And we fell asleep as soon as we reached home, waking up with the dawn today.

This post-hurricane routine is becoming clear – up early, light stove for kettle, pour water slowly into paper cone to make coffee, walk up 30+ blocks to find shower (gym) and warmth and a movie and a swim and the Most interesting people at the counters in random diners.

We have an offer of a brooklyn escape ourselves but we don’t fancy waiting hours in the dark for a car service with strangers. Plus we can be of service closer to home. Friends who have stayed locally are grateful, as are we, for twice daily companionship-by-candlelight.

Other bright sides to post-hurricane – we’re noticeably trimmer (walking and no bagels have been delivered downtown for days ;)

But we only have 4 thyroid replacement pills left.

So we hope that the Pharmacy has power on by the time our lack-of-a-thyroid becomes a Problem.


5 thoughts on “a tale of two cities: manhattan downtown blackout

  1. Brilliant title for this post. Two different cities indeed, what a difference power makes. In every sense of the expression I suppose. Love to you, stay safe, XXXXX

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