November 1, 2012

Reality...isn't as bad as it could be

I'm back to thinking about my hometown.

I haven't seen pictures yet, but I know it's bad. 

"Sayreville is underwater," I've seen on Facebook, again and again.

I know it's not the whole town (Sayreville is a rather sprawling borough in Central Jersey), just the parts near the Raritan River, but still...it's hard to hear.

It all makes me wonder...

Is Kennedy Park under water? You know, the park where, as kids, we swung on rope swings from splintering wooden platforms over rocky cement hills? (A safety hazard the likes of which I haven't seen since...) Where Canada geese took up residence in the early 90s and spread their waste across the track until you could barely walk without soiling your shoes? Where my brother spent hours hanging out in the clay pits with his friends, dreaming of places better than the clay pits of Kennedy Park?

Is that underwater?

Or the high school? Is that underwater? Is its library, which was added on shortly before I entered my freshman year? Which is tiled on the exterior with the school colors (blue and gray), which give it a vaguely bathroom-look? Is my high school underwater?

Is my childhood home underwater? Surely the basement apartment in which I grew up, with it's damp cement floors and bowed wooden paneling...surely that is underwater.

These are some of the questions plaguing me right now.

I've asked for pictures, but I don't want to see.

****

But, in the midst of all this....today, on the news I saw...

...the evacuation of Hoboken, after the floodwaters were miraculously drained by the National Guard. Troops helped women down from the backs of their trucks. They held babies so their mothers could get out. 

These were (are) people who have been through (and are still going through) a lot. Their apartments are likely ruined. They've not had power for days. They're cold and tired and scared as anything. The troops have been working nonstop since the storm, with little sleep or breaks.

But do you know what I saw?

I saw the women thanking the National Guardsmen, smiling with embarrassment (and entertainment) as the men in uniform carried them down.

I saw the National Guardsmen hugging those babies, comforting them when they cried out for their mothers and fathers. 

I saw caring. I saw gratitude.

I didn't see anger, or resentment.

That made me happy.  It showed me the resilience of my home state.  It showed me the determination of its people to make the best of a bad situation. 

It told me....that they're going to be ok.

*****

We, as readers and writers, are often obsessed with dystopia. We read books like The Hunger Games and watch movies like Blade Runner that show us how bad things could get. I write a LOT about the bad things people can do to each other, if given the opportunity.

But today I didn't see any of that. 

Today I see only the good. The caring. The love. The appreciation.

Maybe I'm wearing some rose colored glasses today. 

Who cares. 

*****

In the meantime, if you'd like to help the victims of Superstorm Sandy (silliest name ever, by the way), please consider a donation to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief. 

Every little bit helps.

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