I’ve been getting a lot of phone calls and emails from out-of-state friends worried about how I’m managing with Hurricane Irene lashing out at us here in New York.
I wish I had some harrowing tale to share so they didn’t feel it was a wasted phone call, but as I look outside, the only damage we’ve sustained is limited to our outdoor furniture. A fire pit chair was gently overturned, a cushion from our patio set was toppled, and a plastic watering can was wind-kissed across our front porch. Hardly anything FEMA-worthy considering it took me 18 seconds to rebuild after it passed.
For some reason, if I tell anyone outside the Finger Lakes region that I live in New York, they immediately think I’m living the metro life in New York City. They stand there and verbally purge about how they loathe the traffic in New York, can’t stand New York’s crowded subways, and don’t see how anyone can handle its high cost of living.
I find myself repeatedly explaining that New York is more than just the city that bears the same name. There’s an entire state to explore. One with mountains and lakes and acres upon acres of State Parks and wetlands. There is a New York outside Times Square.
Do those in similar geographical situations ever go through this? Let me ask my millions of internet-capable Oklahomian fans. If you tell someone you’re from Oklahoma, do they automatically assume you live in Oklahoma City? What about those of you in New Hampshire City or West Virginia City?
Manhattan is 300 miles away from my town. A town that hasn’t experienced rush hour since the Grand Opening of the local Wal-Mart in 1998. We don’t even see traffic jams unless someone is laying wounded in the street. And even then, people are so courteous that the injured will apologize for the hold up while dragging themselves to the sidewalk with their remaining limb.
This isn’t to say that traffic doesn’t slow to a crawl around here. We’ve been stuck behind more than our fair share of vehicle caravans. It’s just not due to Cabbies, pedestrians, or double parkers. Here, it’s Mennonites on horse-drawn carriages, farm tractors that could mulch Jersey by sundown, and wayward cattle.
I will admit that we do have crowded Subways here, but it’s usually limited to lunchtime. Not because we have a mass populous, but rather because we just don’t have a lot of restaurant choices.
And contrary to the New York stereotype, the cost of living in this part of the country is actually quite reasonable, whether paying for housing, food, or fire engines.
As the spritzing of rain and light gusts continue to dampen our lawn and scatter leaves, I’m reminded that there is a devastating hurricane out there. It’s just not out there.
So to all my faithful friends, fans, and family members, I am alive, well, and dry. I’m far enough away from the Financial District, Broadway, and China Town that the impact will be minimal. One of the benefits of living 300 miles crosstown.
Many of us, myself included, have poked fun at the reactions and parkas of doomsaying meteorologists since Irene’s infancy. Way back when she was just a wee little nimbus cloud. For me, it wasn’t indifference that led to the chiding. It was simply a reaction to the mainstream media’s apparent obsession over trying to outdo each other with destructive code names.
“Welcome to Hurricanageddon 2011. I’m Chicken Little.”
While it was easy for me to wax sarcasm and tweet one-liners when the media surge first started, once the reality of the hurricane’s surge hit home with actual news headlines of death and damage, I stopped. For the fact remains that people have lost their homes and people have lost their lives. There’s no foundation for humor there.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t laugh at Al Roker in a parka as he floats out to sea. Some events are immune to decency.