I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders."
The storm passed and silence fell on Long Beach. For the next 2 days, I was in complete oblivion, still in shock after what happened. All seemed like a wild dream at the time, I think I was sleeping 12 hours a day during those days, not being able to differentiate what was real and what wasn't.
I didn't have a plan on my way out, though I knew I had to. All my neighbors left one by one, and I was the only one left in an empty, dark, cold building. When the 3rd day came, and it became clear that power wouldn't be back in the foreseeable future, I knew I had to get out. I took my gym back, threw in few things, and left the building with no plan in mind.
The Long Island Rail Road station was closed of course, but I was lucky to find a couple of cabbies who were driving close distances. One of them agreed to take me to JFK, and so we went. From JFK, I made it to the city right before Mayor Bloomberg made it mandatory to have more than 2 people in a car. When later I finally looked back on everything that happened, I knew that God was carrying me the whole time.
To say that I am fortunate to have great friends would be an understatement. I'm blessed to have the most amazing people to be my friends. All of them were calling me, offering help, inviting me to stay with them. And that's what I did for a month to come.
My first stay was on Upper East side (thank you my dearest Val). I was shocked to see that life was going on as usual on UES, people going out, eating, drinking, having fun, when just an hour drive away people were cut off from the reality with no power, no water, no place to go. That's when I learned my 2nd lesson during this whole experience: life is unfair, and there will always be someone who suffers and someone who doesn't. My first lesson was (in case I didn't mention it in my first post about Sandy): Anything could happen. Nature is in charge.
The second shock was when I watched news on what happened to other damaged areas. People lost their homes, they had no food, no water. My situation faded next to them. I was fortunate to have survived, with my belongings undamaged, and priceless experience gained.
The following month, November, I was staying with different friends in the city, traveling to Boston, Minneapolis, visiting those I hadn't seen in a long time. Everyone was so sweet and loving. That's when I learned my 3rd lesson: Relationships with others can tell us who we are. I must have done something right in this life to have such great friends.
God's presence was throughout the whole time, and when I share all my lessons during this experience you'll see why.
My new home was deemed "Red" by FEMA, which meant not livable but not under demolition. Simply put, no one could stay there till it's repaired. The whole ground level was flooded and destroyed, the roof on the right side was blown off. There was a lot of work to be done. So just when I was informed that it would take months (3 or more) to fix my building the most amazing thing happened.