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So the much-hyped, much prepared for hurricane Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it visited NYC early Sunday morning. And while many trees were knocked down, and power did go out for some, by and large the storm just wasn’t what everyone was fearing it would be. Some people are complaining it was a lot of build up for nothing, or expressing disappointment that it wasn’t more exciting. It seems morbid to lament the lack of destruction, but what I think people are really expressing is the anticipation of something out of the ordinary.

Surviving in an actual crisis is anything but fun, but the idea of being removed from your daily routine can be really exciting and refreshing. At first it was annoying that all of my weekend plans were cancelled, but then the forced new approach–we couldn’t take the subway, the two times we left the apartment we walked through our neighborhood more slowly, noticing and observing  more. Saturday preparing for the storm was most an excuse to be lazy.

But Sunday, after the storm had passed,  while I was glad there was no damage, I was, like many not ready to let go of the publicly sanctioned break from reality. So I told my fiance that I wanted to pretend that the power was out (to my surprise he played along all day until we “used the generator” to watch a movie at 10pm). (Of course, we benefited from the power actually working keeping everything in the refrigerator cold.)

It was so peaceful to slow down like that, no music, no internet, no TV. So much of everything I do has some sort of background noise. But yesterday we could literally sit a talk, watching the wind outside the window. Mark read aloud as I made dinner by candle-light. I turned the clocks off, and we didn’t feel artificially rushed to do anything.

In the preparation for the worst a lot of people were reminiscing about past storms and the fun they had huddled in the basement playing board games, spending that oft talked about “quality time.”  If there had been no storm, Mark would have had his birthday party, we would have gone to a baseball game, I would have gone to my weekend yoga classes, we would have set the alarm, and kept to our weekend schedule, we would have had a nice weekend. As it was though, I enjoyed our break from reality.

I even suggested that we try to instate a “hurricane day” once a month or so. A day when the “power goes out” and you don’t know what time it is, when you have to slow down, really listen, really see. When you notice that everything looks more beautiful in candle-light.