Newsletters From Manhattan — Elsa
A storm given the name Elsa busied herself outside the balcony window. I caught a glimpse of a silver blue flash through the blinds and at almost the same time heard a clap of thunder that sounded like the air was splitting the earth open. I swear I felt the building shake in fear. I remembered the rule. Count the seconds between the flash of lightning and the rumble of the thunder. That’s how to tell how close the storm was. Well they were about to collide with each other outside and the second I realized it I ran out the door and up the stairs to the roof. A warm heavy rain was falling. I stepped out onto the concrete terrace and tilted my head back to feel it splash onto my forehead. I was almost immediately drenched. I smiled. The sky was a dirty grey and it floated in between the distant buildings. The trees below waved vigorously back and forth.
I held up my phone to see if I could record a souvenir of at least one stripe of lightning. The sky lit up and not a second later the thunder began its roll like a hand swinging back before it smacked the electric air. I listened with my ear to the sky so I could hear that in between moment. It sounded distant and close at the same time. I was happy to be able to feel the rain. To not have to put my hood up and hurry away from it.
I watched the sky through my phone, lining up the window lit buildings and the distances between them for the perfect composition to welcome the silver zig zags of light. All I managed to save were sounds of the rain beginning to flood the streets, the wind rushing about and sometimes the sky being lit up like a rock concert in the distance.
The elevator was still out so I climbed excitedly back down the stairs to the apartment. It was muggy and too safe inside. The storm’s energy dripped from my hair. I never changed out of my wet clothes, I just waited for them to get dry.
I was still thrilled but no one seemed to care about the outside. Eliot was in the bathroom cathing. Mo said something I didn’t really hear and kept his head down. He almost never makes eye contact. Ever. It was frustrating at first but now I think I’ve given up trying to have an actual conversation with him. We just throw snippets of language back and forth.
The next day there were photos of people wading through flooded subway swamps and news of major highways drenched in water. We’ve been warned to stay safe and to not go out unless absolutely necessary. Do not be touched by her wind and rain. Just stay inside.
I had experienced the storm. But I hadn’t experienced New York experiencing the Storm. I guess it could be possible to just ignore Elsa as she passed through. That’s the experience Eliot will have. He won’t even notice the rain. He could be in an apartment anywhere in the world with a storm outside. Any storm.
Elsa came back again on friday. I dashed up to my familiar lookout to greet her and watched as the lighting moved around me. Quiet thunder followed behind it. The rain was softer.