Monday, November 26, 2012

I Am Lucky

The storage warehouse's basement smells of mold and motor oil. Sand lies in uneven ripples across the cement floor. I brought work gloves with me, but Ray at the counter has a box full of latex gloves and I use those instead. I like my work gloves, and considering the crap that came in with the water when the East River storm surge hit, I might ruin them for good.

I've been keeping a bunch of boxes in storage in Long Island City since I moved back East from Los Angeles. When Sandy hit, the basement flooded; I've only now been able to come back.

I come down the industrial elevator, and unlock the unit. I had packed everything in tough blue plastic tubs, about 2 and half feet high, three wide. At first, I think I'm lucky - I crack open a lid and run my penlight on the stuff inside. It's clothing. It's dry. Then I realize that the tubs aren't all safely stacked. Some of them are tilted, askew. I open one. On the top sits a bush hat, a gift from my parents. The hat's snap button has rusted through the fabric. I can smell the mildew. Below that, a Hebrew bible, a prayer book, both mold-eaten mush. I'm not religious anymore, but I was brought up to think of those books as sacred. Now they're rotting. Then paperbacks, favorites, stuff that's hard to find: Harlan Ellison's Watching; Zelazny's Creatures of Light and Darkness, with the original psychedelic 70s cover; John Brunner's The Compleat Traveller in Black; a biography of Sergei Eisenstein that I searched for for years; Eisenstein's Film Form, with the essay that I recommend to every writer; Orwell's Selected Essays.

Then it gets worse. All the notebooks I saved from college. A notebook from grade school, with the Hebrew letters scrawled carefully from right to left. The records I kept of the movie I produced in film school. My clippings from the Columbia Spectator, and the Journal of Commerce and the Business International Money Report; my workbook from the one class at USC that was truly mind-expanding. The tassel from my high school graduation. My past, such as it was.

I'm so much luckier than so many other New Yorkers.

I left it all in a mulched pile next to the door.


  1. Damn! Sorry to here it Ted.

  2. Thanks. I rescued two monographs that Grandpa had written; there's a trick where you leave the waterlogged item in the freezer for a couple of weeks and the water is supposed to freeze out of it.

    We'll see.

  3. Sorry that you lost some important things... But your story about it was well written :o)