We ran out of milk on Friday afternoon. It happens. Every five or six days, the gallon of 1 percent succumbs to the endless bowls of Cocoa Krispies that are consumed daily in my kitchen, leaving two teenage boys with nothing but fat free half and half between them a bowl of dry cereal. This scenario put me in the awkward position of having to go out and buy a gallon of milk just as the hype around Frankenstorm was beginning to build. Having never understood the run on bread, milk and eggs in the wake of a storm (my friend Tina D. also doesn’t get the need to make French toast during these perilous times), I was loathe to hit the grocery store for fear of being identified with the crazy storm hoarders Dave and I like to poke fun at. But, my babies needed milk and I needed toothpaste so I deftly chose the CVS where I might not be recognized.
Still, I felt the need to articulate my practical, no-nonsense, no-panic personality upon checking out. As I plopped my milk on the counter, I proudly stated to the teenage kid behind the register:
“I just want you to know. I am purchasing this milk because we are officially OUT of milk. NOT because of the THIS storm.”
And then I flashed my best triumphant, I-am-woman smile.
The kid just stared back at me expressionless. I think he might have sighed before responding:
“Ma’am, it really doesn’t matter why you bought the milk. Do you have your CVS Customer care number?”
And so it goes. Clearly there is at least one person in my town who is even more blasé than me about the impending doom. In fact, I find people’s reactions to this hurricane all over the map. Because past predictions of mass destruction have been widely off base, I tend to define myself as agnostic towards Sandy – I’ll believe it when I see it. Others are driving miles to find D-batteries in the event of long-lasting power outages. But I have noticed that as this crescendo builds, a universal sentiment surrounding this weather event is beginning to form:
Everyone is embracing the storm.
I am a big believer in the Common Enemy Theory, and as the forecast worsens, people are coming together in droves in support of one another. Yesterday, the tall ladder made its rounds down our street as the men folk cleared gutters. We love one another here on the Lane but this Amish spirit is not something that takes place every day. Last night’s neighborhood Halloween party served as an opportunity to take inventory of supplies within walking distance of our house. And every signoff, be it to the grocery store clerk, a colleague on email, or a family member is the same: BE SAFE.
I risk being labeled a total psycho path by admitting this but: This impending storm feels ….. good.
There is something life affirming about hunkering down both as a community and as a family. Preparations have been calm, but deliberate. School cancellations have fortuitously provided the break we have all so desperately needed. And for the next several days instead of running in a thousand different directions, we will all be focusing on the same thing: survival. (Even if it is Survivor: Suburbia.)
It is a rare chance to stop and remind ourselves what is important…. that there are issues and challenges that are bigger than the day-to-day nitpicky crap that always seems more dire than it actually is… and that despite our delusions to the contrary, we humans are not in charge.
A week from now when we have been without power for five days, the one gallon of CVS milk I purchased is spoiled, and I am ready to sell my family to gypsies, I may have a different opinion about this storm. But for now, I am choosing gratitude for what it could possibly bring us.
Together we are strong. We have each other’s backs. And this, too, shall pass.