My daughter is hunkered down with her beau in White Plains, New York – the northern end of the New York City metro area – and has been trading graveyard humor with me on the internet all day long. She was sent home from work mid-morning, when there seemed no doubt remaining that this was going to be a big one. A ‘sconnie girl at heart, she’s joked with me about how to make sure the beer stays cold after the power goes out, and she sent mom a 20-second video which she made by sticking her i-Phone out the window of her beau’s condo and capturing some howling wind noise and horizontal rain.
I’m concerned about her, but not worried. She’s smart and resourceful, and is imbued with the independence that was my mission as a parent to impart in her. Mom was the nurturer and practitioner of unconditional support; I was the loving but pragmatic parent, who tried to teach her about the unfairness of the world, how good things are worth working for, who encouraged her to stretch her wings and be her own person and to get out of the nest and see the world.
Her beau, John, has long ago passed all the parental tests regarding the “nice guy quotient”, stability, level-headedness, maturity, and all the other tests young men must pass with “the father”. I am glad they’re together, and glad that she has another loving family to keep an eye on her when danger threatens. John’s parents live in Connecticut, they’re second-generation Italian-Americans (which makes my second-generation Italian-American wife so happy), and they've accepted my little girl into their hearts and home.
My life-long friend Mike was up and at work at 3 this morning. He’s a newspaper editor in New York City, and he’s facing a lot of long hours ahead as the storm moves through the big city. Mike and I grew up with a Tom Sawyer-like childhood in Hortonville, spent countless hours together finding adventure in the pine forests and clear, cold creeks around our village, slept under the stars just about every summer night, worked on the high school newspaper together, went off to different colleges and chased different dreams, but we still share the unbreakable bond of being best friends in our formative years.
The photo at the top of this post is of the flooding at Mariner’s Harbor, on the north end of Staten Island, and was taken by one of the photojournalists on Mike’s staff. There won’t be much rest in the next day or so for any of the hard-core newsies in New York City like Mike. He joked with me in an e-mail this morning that before he left for work he’d put his basement up on stilts and got the shop-vac out of the garage in case it has to be pressed into flood-control duty during the storm. Mike’s wife is used to having her husband answer duty’s call when most everybody else, except emergency workers, is sent home from work. They met as college students and have been together since the 60’s. More than once, Mike’s wife Barb has volunteered her services to help him get news covered and reported. She knows the routine. And she knows he’ll disappear again for untold hours next week, covering the election.
My thoughts also turn to my great friend and business partner, Glen, who will ride out the storm in his suburban Boston home. We covered more than a few blizzards, tornadoes, and severe storms together during our radio years – first as competitors, then for years as colleagues and partners. Since our radio days, we've worked together on two online news outlets, both of us making the transition from big buildings with studios and transmitters, to work-spaces in our homes, on computers with fast internet connections and studios of our own design and construction.
Glen spends a lot of his time on airplanes since he moved back to Massachusetts a little over a year ago, as he still takes personal care of clients in Iowa. We joked back and forth a day or two ago about how he got out of Cedar Rapids just in time to get home and hunker down for the storm. His biggest concern will be not “if” the power will go off in his neighborhood, but how LONG it will be off.
And I’ll have thoughts of new friends – friends I've never even met in person, like Sarah and her family in New Jersey. I've known Sarah’s dad, a Pulitzer Prize- winning author from Madison, for years; and became “acquainted” with Sarah when her dad, bursting with pride, mentioned that Sarah had started her own blog. Such is the nature of things in the 21st Century, that we can have friends, through social media or the internet, that we've never actually met in person – yet we've become acquainted with them through mutual interests and can truly count them as friends.
I’ll be thinking about these family members and friends as I devour the news about Hurricane Sandy – and I’ll pray that they’ll all be safe and sound, and that the worst consequences of the storm will be some short-term inconvenience in their lives.