At the time, my decision to remain on campus during fall break while a Category 1 hurricane stormed through the East Coast seemed unfavorable. But now that enough time has passed, I have grown to appreciate my stay at Princeton during Sandy. Undoubtedly, the Monday I endured Mother Nature’s spite will remain an unforgettable memory for years to come. Here’s how it went down:
I crawl out of bed and open my blinds. A light drizzle beats against my window and mild winds blow the autumn leaves all over the place. As per my daily ritual, I sit down at my desk and log onto Facebook. “What’s on your mind?” it asks. “Why did I stay here for fall break again?” I respond.
Hunger sets in. I depart from 1937 Hall and make my way up to Rocky dining hall. My cheap umbrella upturns as the winds increase in speed and the rain starts to pour. OK, maybe this really is a hurricane. I break into a jog and arrive at the dining hall with soaked hair.
My mom calls me during brunch. “Are you OK?!?” she yells. The group sitting next to me tries to hide its chuckling.
Feeling adventurous, I wander around Wilson and Butler and start taking pictures of fallen trees. Yeah, I was bored. Two Public Safety officers in a cart pass by me on Elm Drive with strange looks on their faces. “Why is he still on campus?” they ask themselves.
I receive an email stating that the University will be closed on Tuesday. Aww, I guess that means the tourists won’t be able to explore the art museum. Bummer.
The Frist Campus Center Facebook page posts that it will close at 4 p.m. today. I rush over to buy snacks from the C-Store before it’s too late.
I bring my hurricane survival snacks up to the cashier. “Why are you still here?” she asks me. I simply smile and walk away without asking for a bag.
I hear a strange noise outside. I open my blinds and see part of the fence to Prospect Garden crushed by a huge tree. Whoa. Things are getting a little crazy.
I receive another email advising me not to go outside due to bad weather. Does this mean I can’t get dinner? Here I come, Special K cereal box...
After sitting around all day, I stand up to stretch. I can actually hear the weather getting worse outside. My phone rings. Another call. From Mom. “I heard there were power outages. Are you OK?!? Is the weather getting worse?!”
My lights momentarily flicker. “Ah, whatever,” I think to myself.
Crap. The power goes off. I sit in the dark for five minutes. Five very long minutes.
Power is back on. My T-Mobile phone loses signal. At least my mom can’t bug me anymore.
My mom messages me on Facebook. “R u ok?” she asks. “Yeah,” I reply.
A knock at my door. My friend from upstairs stands in the middle of the hallway with blankets and marshmallows. “Wanna build a fort?”
The fort is constructed. I blast Queen on my speakers as we devour the marshmallows and listen to the howling winds outside.
My friend explains to me how his plans to travel to New York over the break were ruined. And then the question pops up. “Why are you still on campus?”
“Good question,” I think.
My friend and I take down the fort and he goes back to his room. I sit for a while, looking out the window. I try to imagine how it must be back home in sunny Texas. No chilly winds. No pouring rain. I turn back to my laptop and waste the night away, all while listening to the raging storm outside.
But then I think to myself: Would being home really change anything? Here I am safe in my dorm room living through a hurricane. Which of my friends back home can tell me he spent his Monday going around taking pictures of fallen trees, resorting to eating survival snacks and building a fort made of blankets? Not to mention having the privilege of saying, “I survived Hurricane Sandy.”
If anything, this uncommon start to my fall break was a splendid one. While some students went back home and others traveled out of state for class projects, I am part of the crowd that stayed in Princeton during Hurricane Sandy. And I am pretty damn proud of it.