joe and i got up an hour early this morning, as we'd agreed last night, to straighten up our borrowed upper east side apartment, collect our things, and head downtown for the last time. the lower east side is still without power, so i took leave of my stepbrother's shower with titanic-grade drama ("never let go, andrew's dented old bottle of head & shoulders! never let go!"). when i emerged from the bathroom, joe was packing unenthusiastically. it made no sense to leave, he noted. our cats would be just fine without us for another day or two, we have no food and are halfway through our water and batteries, and we'd be returning with difficulty after nightfall to a neighborhood that was already getting sketchy when we left. why?

i told him that i was tired of being a fire monster, and that's true. the stress i didn't register when the storm was shrieking at us on monday night seeped into me just the same, and in unfamiliar surroundings, i've been short-tempered and even more scattered than i usually am. i've picked a fight every night over where we'll have dinner, and i nearly started crying at the drugstore when a turkey-shaped chocolate reminded me of steve. what the fuck?

the more significant truth is that i feel something like survivor's guilt. in our lively hand-me-down neighborhood of warmth and light, of packed restaurants and bars, one isn't asked if one is alright; everyone is alright. i think of the candles i saw guttering in the window at the little mexican restaurant down by where we really live, doors flung open on tuesday night even though they were lighting the stove with matches, and i feel sick. appropriating others' misfortune is even more unforgivable than ignoring it, i would argue, and that's not what i mean to do. one's home is simply one's home, even in the dark.

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