Time was, and not that long ago either, that it was great to have friends who had complimentary tickets, their very own chainsaws, cars that seated six comfortably, powerboats, beach houses, a non-Zirconian necklace they are willing to loan because they’re not going to the fundraiser, villas in the south of France.
By Robin Jovanovich
Time was, and not that long ago either, that it was great to have friends who had complimentary tickets, their very own chainsaws, cars that seated six comfortably, powerboats, beach houses, a non-Zirconian necklace they are willing to loan because they’re not going to the fundraiser, villas in the south of France. You were happy to accompany them anywhere because they were your friends. You didn’t want to actually own any of those things — other than the diamond necklace — yourself because they look lethal, take up too much space, require a lot of maintenance and repair, and mean you have nothing to wish for during the gift-giving season.
But Sandy changed the landscape. What turns out to be enviable, in addition to a sure-thing relationship in which you make all the executive decisions and children who are no longer on “America’s Most Wanted”, is friends with generators.
Are they “green”? They’re so noisy I couldn’t get close enough to tell. (Leaf blowers, which I’d like to remind you we have a seasonal ban on, are nothing by comparison.) But so many of the truly environmentally-conscious people I know have put them on the sides of their homes, as close as possible to their neighbors, that I’m hoping so.
In any event, when we were told by a straight-talking Rye firefighter that we needed to evacuate October 29, we depended on the kindness of friends with generators.
That these same friends had recently put up with us on an eight-day trip to the north of England needs to be mentioned.
“Don’t you think we’re talked out,” I said to my spouse as he was throwing things in a suitcase. “And their house is brand-new and perfect, and we don’t want to ruin it. Anyway, it’s only our lower garage and storage area that will be flooded — for the fourth time — we’ll be safe if we go to the third floor. I’ll rummage around until I find those candles and the batteries I’m sure I have leftover from Irene.”
His response wasn’t necessarily dignified, much less printable in a community newspaper.
By the time we had filled the car to the point that we couldn’t see out the rear window, we realized we hadn’t packed the dog. Luckily, the friends live down the road.
Our dog and their cat never really saw eye-to-eye, but the rest of us figured out how to make a go of it, especially our hosts who not only have a beautifully designed and appointed house, but a working gas cooktop and microwave and electricity in most parts of the house.
The first few nights we slept in the guest room, which I would highly recommend. True it was next to the generator, but we hummed along. Sleep wasn’t in the forecast anyway, as it was Deadline Week for me.
We did pitch in with the necessary provisions and took bags of communal laundry to a place where they did great folding and didn’t lose a sock. But we wanted to keep our treasured friends, so we quietly worked on an exit strategy.
Our other closest friends, who didn’t have a cat, saved the day.
“Come stay with us in Greenwich. You can have your own wing. We’ll have fun!” Fun was possible, post-deadline.
So, we packed up our things, which oddly required two car trips. But as we were leaving, the friends called to say, “Our generator failed. We’re going to stay in our son’s apartment in Stamford.”
But we had another option: Rye friends who were in Florida who’d offered us the use of their home “anytime.”
“Maybe this is that time,” I whispered to my spouse.
We waved goodbye to our friends and set off another mile, to another beautiful waterfront home with a generator.
The funny thing was that it was really quiet at their house. Unpacking our stuff, we saw the neighbors raking leaves. We decided to introduce ourselves as we looked like the homeless people we’d become.
“We didn’t hear the generator this morning,” the neighbors piped up.
After a few hours in the house, we realized that the generator wasn’t coming back on anytime soon, and the candles we’d lit were pretty close to waxed out.
I made my husband make the call to our friends at the first house. “You must come back,” they said convincingly. “We miss you.”
The feeling was more than mutual. But that’s the way friendships work. It’s rarely a perfect balance. You know that going in.
P.S. Dear Friend, once I finish putting our house back together, I promise I’m going to replace that pillow protector. And we’ll walk your cat.