Dark Streets on All Hallow's Eve
Last night my husband and I ventured out of our Greenwich Village apartment at night for the first time since the blackout started. The lure was a leg of lamb, previously resident in a friend's freezer; he told us it would go to waste unless we helped eat it, since he, too, is in the blackout zone and no longer has refrigeration. He happens to be an excellent cook, and he and his partner are possessed of a large dining table, a fireplace, and many candles, so although their conditions are technically the same as ours (no heat, no electricity, no internet, no hot water), life is much more civilized over at their place.
My friend lives about a mile from us, and I have walked these streets many times. They were almost unrecognizable last night. (Toward the end, they literally WERE unrecognizable, and I had to ask my husband to shine his flashlight on the street signs to be sure we hadn't passed the correct turn-off.) The entire walk was in darkness, with the few pedestrians mainly carrying flashlights--if they were not, they would loom suddenly at you out of the darkness like Halloween-appropriate ghosts. Crossing streets was slightly hazardous, since no traffic lights were in effect, but the cars were well-behaved and so were we. Once or twice in the mile-long walk along Bleecker, we ran into a restaurant or a deli operating under candlelight and selling food for cash; otherwise, every storefront was darkened, and almost every apartment window was dark as well, though a few showed the faint yellow glow of candlelight within. It was rather beautiful, actually, and strikingly quiet, and it made me imagine that this -- dark, curving streets, some paved with cobblestones; brick buildings of only a few stories lining each side; pedestrians few and far between, each carrying his or her own light -- must have been very much what the Village was like in the early nineteenth century, before the advent of streetlighting. One resident getting out of his taxi with his groceries and hurrying to his front door remarked to us in passing, "I'm getting kind of used to the dark." I could see what he meant.