The name of this blog was born of the questions we Sandy Survivors have been asking ourselves since October 29, 2012. Where did our old normal go? What is the new normal? Is this it? What will it be three months from now, or six? And wherever in this revised world will we find our old normal?
I discovered a tasty morsel of it two weeks ago, in the form of a peanut butter kiss cookie.
The road to normalcy, I thought, would feature houses with doors in doorways, windows you could both look out and open up, and mail boxes in front of the very houses where people actually live. People who would look out windows for little red flags and open doors with knobs and walk down a path to pick up the mail. I even dared think that maybe, much further down the road, around some winding curves, one might even find an array of potted herbs, a row of rose bushes.
But I would have been getting ahead of myself.
No, what I was really looking for was your basic door/window combination with a mailbox outside, which could be accessed from the inside, where one resided.
Today I realized that despite the lack of expected indicators, I might be somewhere on the road to normalcy. I almost didn’t realize because my mail is still delivered to a vacant, half-built house. Also, I recently moved from an apartment with windows I couldn’t see out to one with windows I cannot open. And the house I own sports two new side doors I don’t have the keys to. The back door is to be in a section of house that has still not been built, and the front entrance is boarded up—good thing, because its use could prove fatal, seeing as it leads to a deck that still has not been built.
The door in our new apartment has, likewise, not been built. Well, not fully, anyway. To be fair, while it is only a board, it does have hinges, which may help it qualify as a door in a doorway. Albeit, one that appears to be constructed of plywood less than an inch thick bordered by half an inch of open air on all sides.
Blessed with fur, our dog happily weasels through the towers of boxes that is our living room to retrieve a toy thrown into a bedroom of floor-to-ceiling shelves lined with flour, crackers, tea, blankets, extension cords, office paper, cookware, soap, vacuum attachments, and more. We’ve only uncovered two of four couch cushions, and one had been repurposed as a dog bed months ago. We are reluctant to reclaim it from our too-often traumatized girl.
This, like our house under construction, does not look like a home on the road to normalcy. But this week, it sure smelled like it.
I baked. Steve cooked.
Back in July, I had written here about “how hard it is for Steve to stay sane in an apartment with three-inch countertops, in which sautéing results in a shitake-scented wardrobe, and where Jerusalem artichokes go to die in a mysteriously murderous refrigerator.”
Last week, in our new, larger apartment, Steve roasted Jerusalem artichokes. Last week and the week before, on our snow day, I baked my signature peanut butter kiss cookies. I brought them in for a colleague who, two months post-storm, had coached me through my first-ever anxiety attack before my prep period had ended. No cookies for FEMA (who provoked it) to thank them for the mere $5200 offered of our $20,000 in rental costs to-date; or the state of anxiety maintained over six months as I produced over 300 pages of requested proofs of integrity that resulted in no further assistance; or the requirement to apply for a loan that ultimately cost us a grant.
But I digress.
I baked the peanut butter kiss cookies from the recipe Mom and I had discovered in Newsday the first year we baked as a team for Christmas. For days after, we ate them for breakfast until only one tin remained to share with the family on the actual holiday. From that year forward, these rich mounds of impossibly rich bliss became the only cookies that mattered, other than grandma’s rum balls.
Now that Mom and all the comforts of home have gone, they matter even more. So far I have baked four batches and eaten nearly all of them for breakfast. When I have derived enough comfort from this routine, I will share more and eat less. But for the moment, the road to normalcy is paved with peanut butter kiss cookies. And I am blissfully on it.