My family and the other hurricane that hit New York City

For perhaps the first time in my life, I made it through a weekend that had more excitement in store for me than I wanted or needed. 

Where do I start this story?

I’m back where I belong

We’ve been collectively put through the ringer with our nation’s moving target COVID and foreign policy situations in recent weeks. My entire family is fully vaccinated, but it would seem that not every person can say the same, as we witness the surge of the Delta variant. A hurricane that sounds like it was named after Cirque du Soleil started chugging up the East Coast, which is not irrelevant to this story, and on a more personal note, I’m starting my junior year of college. 

My cousin Olivia is starting at LIM in the next few weeks (congratulations, btw), so she and her father, my Uncle Rick, decided to drive down from Boston to New York City for the weekend in order to get their bearings. They also were doing me a major solid by bringing me a love seat and several boxes I’d packed to put in my dorm room. Meanwhile my brother and his girlfriend Mikaela were visiting the city as well, only this time as two people contemplating moving there next year after graduation. My Uncle Eddie, on my dad’s side, managed to come from Singapore to surprise his mother for her 70th birthday on Staten Island. All of this coincided with my college move in as an RA, which my parents would be overseeing.

So here we have, for the first time in my family’s history, a scenario in which several members of my family would all be in New York City for completely unrelated reasons. We’d be remiss if we didn’t all meet up in the city to take advantage of this level of serendipity. 

Do you guys think that they’re Yankees fans?

It was in that spirit that my brother booked us all a dinner reservation at an Italian restaurant that our Auntie Regal swears by. Apparently she took me there as a child, but damned if I remember. This time, I will have no trouble remembering “Da Nico’s” in Little Italy. I’m not sure if it was the spot-on Sinatra impersonator belting it in the doorway or the perfect roundtable we all sat at, but it was a nice break from the stress of our dizzying lives. 

We stepped out to be seated outside, only to have the host look up at the sky and say, “hmmm, it looks like it’s about to rain.” That bit of rain he was referring to was the start of Hurricane Henri’s reign on New York City that would later wreak havoc on our entire weekend. We spent our dinner inside, as the first hour of the storm raged on outside the window.

Our dinner at “Da Nico’s” and our brief trek through Chinatown was spent with us catching up with one another. I’ve lived in New York for the past two years and haven’t bumped into any famous people, but my cousin and uncle were in town for about an hour when they bumped into Naomi Osaka, fresh off her Olympic victory and on her way to the U.S. Open. Bobby told us about him and Mikaela playing chess in Union Square Park, so that he might relive a childhood memory, in which he played against a highly-skilled Cambodian chess player. 

During the actual dinner, we were gushing over our food, pushing our forks into each other’s faces, so that we could all try a bit of everything and figure out who out ordered the rest of the table. We underwent a similar ritual with the drinks as well. When we left the restaurant it was pouring rain, in a way I hadn’t seen in New York City before. People were huddling under awnings and sprinting through the puddled sidewalks to get to shelter. The rain was pelting us and we were sopping wet in no time, but I hadn’t quite pictured New York City in heavy rainfall before and seeing raindrops dripping off traffic lights was surprisingly pretty.

After dinner, we crammed ourselves into Ubers and cabs, and narrowly avoided hydroplaning all the way to the somewhat splashy Hyatt that we stay at in Bronxville whenever I go back to college. In the city, Bobby and Mikaela were staying in questionable hotel accommodations (no one in my family will ever use priceline again), but they’d be with us in our hotel a few hours later.

After a particularly loud and unpleasant incident that they’d overheard in the other room, my brother and his girlfriend came to stay with us instead, even though we’d thought we’d said our goodbye the night before. 

The plot thickens, I guess. 

Then their flight out of the city was cancelled due to the weather. 

The plot thickens some more.

And my college postponed my move-in by two days as well, also due to the weather.

Now the plot really thickens, I guess. 

The hotel I had to stay at for an extra day

I had a disassembled sofa and several boxes with no place to put them, surrounded by family members whose flights had been grounded by the storm. It seemed strange to all of us that my school would postpone a flight due to a hurricane, but then again I lived on the Florida line, where people will drive through flooded roads with tree limbs sticking out of the sunroofs of their cars on their way to work during a category five shit storm. 

The couch in question

I still remember attending a weekend drama club rehearsal and then eventually school, while everyone’s houses were without power and running on generators. As it turns out, this is the first hurricane that has hit New York in about thirty years. There was a shelter in place implemented, but none of us considered following it, since it was practically drizzling by the time we were all at our hotel. 

I met up with my friend Tyler since we were staying an extra day and then we met with my Uncle Eddie. Per our recommendation, we all ate at “Dumpling and Noodle,” a Sarah Lawrence favorite. The rain didn’t stop once so I spent my time in a perpetual state of wetness. 

After saying goodbye to Bobby and Mikaela, for real this time, I went to hang out with Tyler, who’d informed me that his uncle had a small role as someone who died in “Silence of the Lambs.” I forced him to watch the movie with me, so that he might point out his uncle as we watched, only to discover that his uncle hadn’t been in it and he’d mixed it up with a different cannibalistic movie. At least he liked the movie. 

The next day, my parents lovingly bought me some new pots and pans and groceries to make sure I had everything I could possibly need for my semester back at school, before going back home themselves.Now everyone has left New York but me, the day before I move into my school. The school had me holed up in the Hyatt, where I was supposed to finish writing my articles for my summer job and interview for classes. 

I spent my time clicking through my course catalogue, heating up the greasy leftovers I took off my family’s hands in the lobby microwave, and idly channel surfing on a TV that doesn’t have half the channels they say they have. At some point while I was doing this, the rain stopped outside. The hurricane had come and passed. 

It would seem that while my family was making its way up to New York, Hurricane Henri was doing the same. Now I’m off to work on my school work and oversee the schooling of the Sarah Lawrence residents that I will be in charge of. 

They’ve got a big storm coming too.

The Tragic Queen,

Raquel

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