This week, I live like a hobo. I trade bananas for showers and cookies for firewood. My neighbors have been accepting of this plan, for they have generators, and we do not. None of us has power, as this is New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy. But I have bananas and cookies and a big thing of gasoline that was welcomed with open arms, which made me feel a little like Mad Max.
Mornings, I have breakfast around the corner, where they have a plug-in griddle that doesn’t shut down the power as long as you unplug the refrigerator and don’t plug in too many cell phones at once. I bring them newspapers and fruit, and I make pancakes. They make me tea and eggs and let me take a hot shower.
Nights, I eat down the street, where a dozen or so of us sit around the kitchen table and share hot dogs, peas and homemade apple sauce, telling stories about the Jersey shore towns where we’ve visited all our lives that are now flooded, sandy wrecks. People who can get Facebook show photos of places like Seaside Heights, Asbury Park and Lavallette where the boardwalks and houses are ruined. Up here in the woods of northern New Jersey, we have no power, but we have our homes.
After dinner, we return to our dark house where we start a fire, play Battleship and Sorry and then sleep in the living room with the cat. When we woke up this morning, it was 53 degrees in the house.
But we have the house.
And we have no flooding.
No tree landed on our roof.
Our car survived.
The elementary school lets us charge up our laptops and phones.
We are healthy and our families are fine.
Neighbors have generators, and I have bananas and cookies.
I reached into my beach bag yesterday morning for some fresh clothes to put on after my deliciously refreshing shower, and pulled out a beach pass from Manasquan, where I’d visited with friends this summer. My cell phone came back to life, its wallpaper a photo of my son and me on the beach in Point Pleasant after a soccer game in September. The Jersey Shore isn’t our home, but it is our backyard, and we are sad to see what has happened to it.
We are fine here. We hope the Jersey shore will be fine again, too, like it is in our memories. Until then, we will live like hobos, wandering the neighborhood in search of a shower and a meal.
(I would post a photo, but it won’t let me. I’m so used to things not working, it doesn’t faze me. Eh.)