Thursday, May 06, 2010

Post-Diluvian Follies: Would You Be Mine, Could You Be Mine...

Except for my clunking boots and labored breathing, the house was silent. Except for the birds, the hot breeze, and the occasional rumbling truck, the neighborhood was silent too.

But some days there were others. Sometimes neighbors showed up, in from their respective exiles, doing the same thing I was. I saw Greg and Linda two houses down. And Tony and his family across the street.

We were a lost little group, shell-shocked, bewildered, clueless, trudging around in our masks, stopping now and then to gaze dumbly up at our houses: “What…?” The mother across the street looked bad—broken. I often saw her sitting slumped on the steps, respirator around her neck, staring off into nothing with an expression of blank exhausted despair.

But the company was a comfort, turning the private misery into a shared one. We’d exchanged waves before the storm, but now we fell into long conversations—What the hell do we do next?

And the company was useful. Our block tightened under crisis into a sort of information co-op, swapping tips, connections, and phone numbers: a good demolition crew, how to save hardwood floors, the proper ratio of bleach to water.

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