My sons, who are up in Binghamton, N.Y., and down in Tampa, Fla., both texted me last night and this morning to see “what was what” (which is the way guys tell each other we’re concerned) in Brooklyn. I also texted with my ex-wife, who lost power on Long Island, and joked about all of the times we were snowbound and ended by telling each other to stay safe. I did the same with my last girlfriend, who lives in Queens and was entertaining her small children while the lights flickered on and off.
I emailed and texted the woman I'm currently dating to see how she and her teenage daughter were faring on the Upper West Side, and checked in with my friends Tony and John, who both live downtown and lost power sometime last night. My old pal Steve in Boca Raton, Fla., emailed to make sure that I wasn’t drowning in the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel — and I even heard from someone I was briefly involved with a few years ago, who was also sleep- and powerless in Manhattan and just wanted to say a quick hi in the dark.
My sister, Patti, who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., texted to see how Sandy was treating me. And even though we had just had a big fight and weren’t speaking, we were able to put that aside. Worrying always becomes the first priority.
When bad things happen, we instinctively need to hear from those closest to us (especially if they're not physically near), so we know that everything will be all right. And maybe I need it more than most. Maybe I’m just a big mama’s boy whose mom has been dead for more than 30 years, but the reassurance of connecting with a loved one during the bad craziness going on right outside my window makes me feel warm and safe inside. And I’m not just talking about my apartment.
Obviously, texting, email and social media bring us together so much faster and easier, which led me to post the following question on Facebook:
How did we ride out a storm before Facebook and Twitter?
An old friend answered “Drugs!” but the real answer is that we didn't have so many choices back in the dark days before the Interwebs and simply picked up our phones. Don’t get me wrong: It was great to hear from family and friends, but I missed the sound of their voices. All of our back and forth was online or texting, and I’m pretty OK with it because that’s the way we all live in the world these days. But part of me really isn't so OK at all.
Which is why I called my sister today.
“Hi,” I said. “I just wanted to hear your voice.”
“I’m so glad you called. I really am,” Patti said. “I wanted to call you yesterday, but didn’t know how you’d feel, so I texted instead.”
“I know. That’s why I called you,” I said. “I just wanted to tell you that I love you.”
“I love you too,” she said.
And that was the one good thing.