I learned about the Supreme Court’s decision via a text from Sue Robin in Los Angeles: Maybe we will sleep better, she wrote, with the Supreme Court ruling… Then one came in from Rebecca Fass in Westchester County: the supremes rejected the trump case. Scattered and isolated as we are around the country, our shared darkness makes us want to celebrate together any glimmers of light—and this is a big glimmer.
An amber necklace
by Ruth Neuwald Falcon, Seattle, Washington
The lights went out in New York City just before 5:30 p.m. on November 9, 1965. As it turned out, it wasn’t just New York that was impacted. Thirty million people, in half a dozen states as well as two Canadian provinces, were without power.
My sociology class at Hunter College had just ended and I was standing in the front of the room asking my professor a question when the building went dark. Looking out the window, we could see that the whole neighborhood was also in darkness. Harry and I ended up in a crowded candlelit bar on Madison Avenue in the 60s. Everyone was very convivial. It was a clear night with a full moon and it felt like the whole city was partying at a giant block party (at least those of us fortunate enough not to be underground in a subway or thirty stories up in an office building like my poor mother was).
This is how I remember that night but I was young (it was my first fall out of high school) and perhaps my memory is skewed by the adventure of being out drinking with a professor. Confirmation was a Google away. From a piece (with some great photos) in AMNY: “A survey taken of New Yorkers following the blackout found that ‘there is no evidence that they perceived any real or potential threat in the situation.'”
On July 13, 1977, at a little before 9:30 p.m., I left work at the post production company in the East 50s where I was an editor. As I walked out of the building, the city went dark for a second time. I lived on West 72nd Street between Broadway and West End. No subways were running and the buses were way too crowded to even attempt to board so I walked home, expecting to feel the same convivial atmosphere that I had the first time the city went dark.
By the time I got to the Upper West Side, any thoughts of going to the local bar for a drink and some socializing were long gone. Though nothing, to my knowledge, had happened yet, the energy in the city felt uneasy, with an edge of threat. I could feel that the darkness that was quickly descending was a deeper darkness than just extinguished lights.
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:
“Looting and vandalism were widespread in New York City, hitting 31 different neighborhoods. The blackout occurred when the city was facing a severe financial crisis and its residents were terrified by the Son of Sam murders. The nation as a whole, especially New York City, was suffering from a protracted economic downturn, and commentators have contrasted the event with the good-natured “Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?” atmosphere of 1965. Some pointed to the financial crisis as a root cause of the disorder; others noted the hot July weather, as the East Coast was in the middle of a brutal heat wave. Still others pointed out that the 1977 blackout came after businesses had closed and their owners had gone home, while in 1965 the blackout occurred during the day and many merchants were still at their properties.”
It wasn’t until early afternoon the next day when I felt that I could venture out into the streets. A few doors down toward Broadway, a small shop that sold handmade jewelry and folk art was open. I went in. The bleary-eyed owner greeted me. He had been there all night, guarding his store, which meant that his was one of the few on the block that had not been vandalized. I wanted to buy something from him so browsed through the necklaces. There were two I liked, one with blue stones, the other amber. “I don’t know which one to get,” I said to him. “You don’t have to choose,” he said, wrapping them in tissue paper and putting them in a bag. “They’re both yours. No charge.”
This morning, I picked up the amber-stoned necklace and put it on, in keeping with the intention I wrote about in my second blog post so many months ago, to wear, just for myself, the precious things I have collected over a lifetime. I don’t wear that necklace very often but today, as I looked at it, I was aware of how much I needed to wear something that carries the energies of hope, kindness, generosity, gratitude and relief.
Maybe I should wear it every day until January 20.