What the f*ck are you looking at?

A(nother) Love Song to New Jersey

As you know by now, I really do pretty much hate people. Sorry. But it’s true. Because in the everyday, most people have forgotten the simple art of being decent. Kind. How to give a hug to someone who needs it. How to stop to buy lemonade from a kid, even if they’re late and they hate lemonade. How to listen sometimes and not to talk. How to own our mistakes. How to say we’re sorry. How to give a shit. We’ve chosen to be a-holes and liars and one-uppers (pls note use of the “Royal We,” as none of the aforementioned a-holishness applies to me. I am obviously awesome.). But in times like this, when Nature unleashes a Fury that not even New Jerseyans (who know a little something about Fury) can understand, even the a-holes seem overcome by their long-squashed humanity and the innate need to help those who suffer so cruelly. Even when the pain of others’ grief renders us stunned, we come together, a-holes and all. Because we must. So many of our own – friends, neighbors, strangers, even – are quietly enduring their own grief and loss as victims of illness, loneliness, or an unforgiving economy; we can’t help but ask ourselves, “Who do we help first? Who is more important? Who is the least a-holey?” Sometimes the answer is in our backyards. Sometimes it is an ocean away. Sometimes, there is no answer.
By now, I am confident we have all seen the thousand images of horror and devastation in New Jersey and the surrounding areas. Some of us are glued to our televisions, moved by the stories of hope and heroism amid the rubble, mesmerized by the scenes and stories of loss – lives and homes and memories simply swept away. Others, like me, have to turn it off and turn away. The suffering is too great and our hearts can’t hold it. Whether you are a daughter of NJ, like me, or not – whether your friends and loved ones, like mine, still populate the devastated area, or not, what we all seem to share (even the a-holes) is the desire to DO something – to ease the pain of the survivors and somehow wrap our brains around what has been lost. This is heartening, watching people hurt for others. For many of us, though, the pain we feel for our human brothers and sisters is virtually paralyzing. In our hunger to do something, anything, everything – too often we end up doing nothing. In time, our inertia turns to resignation and we move on, ashamed at how handily our good intentions fail us.
As the heart-wrenching news coverage of Sandy begins to wane, we must know that the suffering is still there and will be for a very long time. It will bring out the worst in people, but it will also bring out the best. The outpouring of love and charity in response to this disaster is something very special to this far-away Daughter. Political barriers are, at least temporarily, broken.  Enemies become friends. Rivals become teammates. A-holes become angels. It is a true testament to our capacity for compassion and the human bond we all share that even in these meanest of times, we find our hearts breaking for others and our hands reaching out to help them.
Being so far away feels utterly empty, and the helplessness is nearly debilitating. I am profoundly grateful to all the souls who are saving each other back at home while I watch from afar as they do my job. I am equally grateful to those around the country who are mobilizing to bring relief, supplies, water, food, hugs, hope. Thank you. I often wish there were something bigger than “thank you,” and I guess there is – there is Love. Gratitude. Loyalty. Kindness. And maybe that’s the finest way to repay your selflessness – to just stop being such freaking a-holes.
As for Home, I have to believe it will be fine. The people of our tri-state area are certainly not strangers to devastation, nor are we afraid enough of anything that it ever stops us from doing what needs to be done. To clean up the messes and put out the fires and fill up the holes in our hearts left by haters and hurricanes. We are tough. We shatter, spectacularly, and we put ourselves back together – every goddamned time. This time will be no different. We will come back better and stronger and humbler. We will come back more loving and more grateful for things we never even think about until they are taken from us. We will come back bruised, but not broken. Never, never broken.
So don’t worry about us. Help us, hurt for us, hope for us and cheer for us – but don’t think for one second that that sound you hear is our death-rattle. I assure you, it is our battle cry.
And by the way? You should see the other guy.

November 1, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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