Extreme Weather Relationship Therapy
Like millions of East Coasters, the recent Hurricane Sandy left me without power, heat, Internet, or phone reception for nearly a week. I also missed work during that time, which totally sucks because I get paid hourly, and the world knows that I am one seriously broke girl. Basically, I was fucked, but not as fucked as a lot of other people who lost much more than I did. However, this post isn’t to talk about the many ways that Big Bitch Sandy left Eastern Seaboarders feeling like we were living in some post-apocalyptic zombie-slaying video game– or how, just a week later, Gaia decided to really drive home that whole global warming thing by totally snowstorming all over the place,then being unusually hot for this time of year– but rather how this extreme weather has affected me on yet another very personal level: romantically.
Sandy might as well have been nicknamed “The Poor Girl’s Dr. Phil, Except Not Dr. Phil Because He is Totally Annoying and for Republican Moms” because her powers sent me through a five-day, relationship-building couples’ therapy session, free of charge. Nothing tests a relationship like being locked in a dark, freezing, leaky-ceilinged old tenement building in Chinatown with your main squeeze for days-on-end, 40 blocks away from the nearest electricity and phone reception, and with nothing to do but shiver while you heat up another can of beans and listen to Billy Joel between disaster updates on the radio. Believe you me, my relationship was tested. It was a novela in the most Telemundo of forms– up, down, and peppered with ugly-crying (only on my part) and too-intense eye contact (… again, just me). At one point, I even got violent and ragefully threw a tampon at my boyfriend’s head. I’m not proud of it.
Actually, tampons were kind of at the root of my overly-emotional hurrication. Recent traveling and time differences caused me to take my birth control pills at wacky hours, which basically resulted in me being a hormonally-charged, crazy-ass bitch one minute, and a cuddly-but-slightly-mangy, calico kitten the next. You probably already get the picture: add off-kilter hormones to the already sucky situation of sitting around in the dark for a week, and, well, I was basically the Mayor of Moodswing Township. I honestly feel embarrassed by my bouts of no-reason crying during Sandy lockdown, but I feel even more embarrassed by my pre-menstrual extreme weather uniform of choice: an ill-fitting, K-Mart-purchased Hanes sweatsuit, in an unflattering heather-gray hue (perfect for highlighting all of the Trader Joe’s wine, ugly crying tears-and-snot-combo, and stress-eaten potato chip grease that I slobbered down the front of myself throughout the week).
Nothing– I reapeat, nothing— sucks the sex out of a relationship like a Hanes sweatsuit. It’s the 100% cotton version of a chastity belt.
Besides acting and looking like the utmost cliche of drunk crazy cat lady who’s given up on anything that doesn’t involve the Soap Network, my poor relationship faced another extreme weather obstacle during the storm: cooking at home. Hurricane Sandy closed all of the restaurants and supermarkets in the surrounding areas, so my BF and I had to live off of the emergency provisions that we had purchased in anticipation of the superstorm. There was just one issue: our idea of “cooking” typically starts and ends with spooning our takeout out of it’s containers, and onto our mismatched broke people plates. Curiously, we love using our ice cream maker, but unfortunately, Man cannot live off of frozen desserts alone (believe me, I’ve tried!). Anyway, our first attempts at hurricane cooking resulted in meals that strangely looked appetizing and balanced, but tasted like a sand/gruel combo. We’ve never been to prison, but between makeupless me in my matchy-matchy women’s ward sweatsuit, and both of us depressedly shovelling no-taste sad lentils into our mouths, we felt like we were sentenced to life without parole.
My boo and I were hungry. We were sad. We had cabin fever, and I had a box of feminine products just waiting to be chucked at the man’s head because oh my god, everything is so annoying, ugh, life, oh my god, you just don’t understand me, ugh, quarter life pre-menstrual issues, god. The Romance Level of our relationship was somewhere between “buying packaged tube socks,” and “reading informational pamphlets about herpes.” I started to get horribly worried– we’d never been one of those “miserable couples” before; maybe Dr. Sandy was trying to tell us that we weren’t meant to be? But then, just as I began to mentally make arrangements to pack up my prized Elton John poster/plastic dancing flower collection and split as soon as the subway went back in service, it happened: we managed to cook a meal together that didn’t taste like the soil from that potted plant that I bought that I keep forgetting to water. It was delicious, and it was something that we never thought that we could do before. Cartoon hearts streamed out of both of our eyes– we were a team, dammit! And a seriously magical one at that.
Re-energized by conquering our culinary challenge, the ravaged New York cityscape which we inhabited suddenly took on new meaning– pretty literally, it was Us Against the World. Holding hands, chatting, and affectionately informing each other of any fallen tree limbs or unexpected puddles that might disrupt our meandering, we made the pilgrimage to non-1800s civilization. By the time we walked 40 blocks to Herald Square– where there was electricity– and back, the electricity was also back in our love life. My hormonal rage washed away toward the overflowing storm drains as I secretly wished that the power wouldn’t come back on for a few more days– turns out Hurricane Sandy was kind of awesome.
Duh, not for the communities that were destroyed, but for bringing people together and stuff. Example: we like, never see our roommates, but since we couldn’t be go-go-go New Yorkers during the storm, we instead spent our evenings drinking together, laughing, and sharing stories by candlelight (you know, until they ditched us for their friends in Brooklyn who had power). Not only did my boy toy and I realize that yes-we-can cook food that doesn’t taste like dirt porridge, but– in true 12 year old girls at a slumber party fashion– we also discovered that lying awake in the dark (which we did a lot of, since the sun goes down at 5pm these days), is the perfect venue for gettin’ deep, and talking about emotions and memories that you might feel uncomfortable revealing without a security blanket of heavy blackness. Not having heat for a week certainly sucked, but not when you have a fellow Prisoner of Extreme Weather to keep you warm in his big ol’ man arms at night. No sirs, lack of heat was not a problem at all, so much so that I was finally moved to divest myself of my body oils-encrusted second skin of a Hanes sweatsuit… you know, seductively. Or at least as seductively as one can divest oneself of a sweatsuit. I was really trying, there, and I think it at least halfway worked.
Because that’s what extreme weather does for us: like meditation, a stalled subway car, or a drunk homeless person passed out in front of the door to our apartment building, it forces us to stop. Stop texting; stop lurking on Facebook all day; stop blowing all of our money on Uniqlo tights and Indian food (jk, jk– those are two purchases that are always justified). When all of the things that we creatures of the modern world depend upon are taken away from us,we realize what’s really important in life: good friends, face-to-face conversation, creating things, reading books, and, of course, love. Turns out Mother Nature isn’t a Big Bitch at all, but one of those wise old broads who’s been trying to teach us a lesson the Whole Entire Time. Basically, Sandy punk’d us. And in my case, she punk’d my relationship to highlight it’s issues (i.e. my insane moodswings, and our complete lack of domestic skills), and make it come out the end of the storm stronger than ever. So next time snow, rain, sleet, or whatever other impending doom forces my boyfriend and me to stay inside, I might just light some candles and turn off my phone for old time’s sake, whether the power goes out or not. I know it would be cliche to end this piece with, “All You Need is Love,” but I can’t help myself– all you need is love, babies! And properly-taken birth control. And sweatsuits. Apocalyptic love and contraceptives and dowdy loungewear for all!