I’m determined to write about Hurricane Sandy. The thing is, I can’t shake off this writer’s block. Is being from New Jersey a good enough reason to write this post? And maybe it’s not writer’s block. Maybe I fear that I have nothing insightful to say, that my opinions aren’t justified.
The “Frankenstorm,” which is responsible for 166 deaths and rising, made landfall only days ago. And yet, in less than a week’s time, the news media has exhausted every possible angle on the aftermath and implications of the storm.
There’s nothing left to say.
Politicization of Sandy began the second it appeared on the radar. Every other journalist has supposed the impact of the storm on the election, but I don’t know. Talking politics seems kind of insensitive, and besides, I already voted.
Well surely you must feel something?
I’m trying. Lights on, laptop plugged in, I research every statistic and read through every human interest story about death and survival. Nothing. I’ve seen so many pictures of trees fallen on houses, of neighbors waist deep in flood water, that instead of feeling moved or inspired, I feel as if I’ve been desensitized to what has happened.
Something’s not right.
My roommate from New York and I compete to see who can find the most destructive picture of our hometowns. It’s sick, but I’m desperate. My parents are without power, and my friends have trees in their bedrooms, but I’m in Boston, and I’m totally okay. So I scan news sites incessantly in hopes of finding some sort of photograph, some anecdote or statistic through which I can connect to the tragedy. Damn it I’m from New Jersey. I should write this post because it has something to do with me, right?
I’m at a loss for words.
My friend at NYU, I tell him that I’m writing a post on the hurricane. Maybe he’ll have something good to say, something to which I can relate. So I ask him his opinion.
“Listen,” he tells me, “You don’t know Hurricane Sandy. That’s my opinion.”
Ouch. What did I say? No, wait, he’s right. I deserved it. He hasn’t had power all week. Parts of his school have been evacuated. This isn’t writers block. This is guilt. This is me wanting your pity and knowing I don’t deserve it. Say what you want about my psychological need for self-victimization, I have nothing to say about Hurricane Sandy.
My friend continued, “Sometimes I feel like other people don’t understand at all what’s going on.”
I can’t begin to understand and never will.
And on Friday night, when my friend’s power came back on, I congratulated him. But damn, if only I could feel the relief he must have felt.