I moved to my new Brooklyn space on Friday, August 26th and the next day the hurricane hit New York. If moving is stressful (they say it is the second most stressful human experience after losing a partner or intimate), then spending a stormy night in a leaky place where 15 years of your artwork is stored in flimsy cardboard boxes adds immensely to the stress.
- What was I thinking! What devil possessed me to move here? – I lamented, emptying another bucket, wringing yet another rag, wiping God’s tears off my studio’s walls. Wind howled and rain slashed against the windows trying to get in. I felt that I just had pushed all my possessions over a cliff into Abyss. No safety, no security. I might as well be under a bridge.
We didn’t sleep a wink that night, me and my heroic boyfriend. Every time when we lied down too tired to stand up we heard a new drip indicating another leak and rushed there with pots, buckets and rags.
- Don’t get too precious about the space, – my boyfriend had told me when I obsessed about getting the laminate floor perfectly lined up. – Save your worry for something else.
Here it was, that Something Else – Irene raping my new building from 1907 and all I could do to protect my property was to throw rags at coming in water.
Then, briefly on Sunday, Sun came out. The bay shimmered in silver light. We could see police boats struggling against the wind. If you squinted your eyes, Staten Island in the distance reminded vaguely of an Italian vista.
- The view, – I said. – I got the place for the view. It is good. It is worth the pain.
But part of my heart knows that from now on I will never be able to relax, always on the edge about weather, God’s unpredictable will and possible rains.
I have to tell you about laminate. On Monday, August 22nd we started to put in laminate floor. It is so easy, a child could do it in her sleep.
You start with laying down padding, for heat insulation and for cushion.
The rolls of padding have to line up and taped together with a duct tape:
The next day, on Tuesday, August 23rd, we went for lunch in nearby Halal food place that serves really good Puerto Rican chicken.
- How do I get to live till 96? – I asked my boyfriend. At that moment, life seemed good: sharing chicken, rice and beans with a nice, handsome man whom you are laying a floor with made me want to live forever. My previous ambition – to live till 95 – asked for an alteration.
- Well, that depends on your luck, – my boyfriend wisely said. – If earthquake doesn’t make a ceiling to fall on your head, if a stray truck doesn’t run you over, you might live till 96.
We finished the lunch, walked to the corner. I was going to a hardware store to get more duct tape and my boyfriend – back to laminate. We kissed, we waved and we walked apart. The next moment I know everybody is running out of their little houses onto the street, screaming.
I hadn’t felt the ground shaking and none of the people who walked into the hardware store felt it either. Which is proof that walking is good for your nervous system.
Everything said and done 5 minutes before the earthquake was illuminated. We mentioned an earthquake and here it was. How strange! How prophetic! How meaningful!
But carpenters and car mechanics went back to work and after we lingered outside the shady 1907 structure that might not bear another 5.8 blow we went back to work, too. Earthquake illumination lasted for about 2 hours. Around 9 PM we forgot that there was one.
The floor has to end somewhere and hopefully in a straight line. When the laminate piece is too long, measure the space: