It’s a momentous occasion when I get lonely. Being the introvert that I am, that rarely happens. I’ve grown to be happy in my own company, and always have things buzzing in my head to keep me occupied. Except when it doesn’t. Or, when something truly overwhelms me.
As it was on Oct. 28, the evening before Sandy hit. I’d spent the day packing a couple of bags for a hotel stay, and shutting things down here at the compound. Because I live close to the river, a voluntary evacuation was to start at 6 that night, becoming mandatory at 9 that morning. And even though I didn’t think the flooding would be as bad as Irene, I needed to be in place where I could work (transit systems were shutting down). So, to the hotel and remote office I was going.
I puttered around the apartment in the afternoon, biding time till 6. At the appointed hour, backpack slung over my shoulder, I wheeled my suitcase to the car. Then, before the waves really hit the shore, the wave hit me.
It was overwhelming to feel unmoored, adrift, being run out of your place. Irene left me in a hotel for three nights, but at least the place was up the street. Having to go 15 miles away felt different. It wasn’t like I was never going to see my place again. The storm always passes. But it was…I felt alone in the world, and it was disconcerting to feel uncentered like that, like a vagabond, or a refugee. I want a place in the world, albeit small. And for a while, that place wasn’t there.
The feeling persisted as I drove to the hotel. It dissipated when I saw an old work colleague at the hotel bar (leading me to think correctly that I’d picked the right place). And although it was a week of uncertainty (my area lost power for five-and-a-half days), the routine and the surroundings helped me get my bearings again.
Although, I’ll never forget the feeling of being adrift in a storm.