The Blackout of 2003
I was sitting at my desk at the West 18th Street offices of AOL when my computer, among others hint of electricity, shut down. After several moments of milling about we found ourselves evacuated to the streets below where the collective murmur told us there was no power for blocks. We huddled around a nearby car radio to learn it was actually much more widespread than that. Maybe even as far as Harlem!
It was deductively clear we weren’t returning to work, so I buddied up with one of my roommates (also an esteemed AOL employee) and we started walking North. Walking is just what you always seem to do in New York. Brian’s girlfriend lived in Hell’s Kitchen, 30 blocks away, and her apartment was the closest we could think of to find respite. Along the trip we picked up plastic forks from a hot dog vendor and a gallon of ice cream from a grocery store that had wheeled out shopping carts full of melting goods for the taking.
As it turned out, many, many other folks had the same destination. So what do you do when there is no electricity, no work and lots of sweaty people in one place? Throw the biggest, darkest “Blackout Party” ever. Full of wandering strangers, our walk-up rooftop bash overlooked a city, beloved for its floor to ceiling lights, void of illumination. I remember noticing the stars, except I hadn’t yet been in NYC long enough to think that was special.
The best moment of this top 10 moment was when we decided to go for a walk with our warm beers through the middle of Times Square. We wanted to see what the brightest, flashiest, Vegas-like blocks looked like turned off. And even though The Great White Way was extinguished from the ground up, every news anchor was broadcasting live from 42nd Street. So the celebrity of the city, the reality that the world wanted to know what was happening here, was still blinding.
The next day I used a New York City pay phone – for the first and only time – to call home. I was tired, hungry, dirty, hungover, giddy, “I can’t believe I live here! NEW YORK CITY!” Here, where a power outage equals teaming up with a lot of people you don’t really know but might as well share a toothbrush with. Because you’re all walking and walking, forking runny ice cream and sucking in the same buzz, lapping at the exact same city high.
*generic pictures from the internet of the blackout in nyc