Immediately after the Series of Unfortunate Catastrophes, everything was chaos. But when a month had passed, as things calmed and I started to gain a handle on post-Apocalyptic reality, I realized not everything sucked. I began to appreciate that I was now anonymous. That sounds lonely, but anonymity turns out not to be entirely awful. It was like my first day at college: since nobody nearby knew me, I had an opportunity to be someone else. What’s more, as it was in college, in the post-SUCs world, those of us thrown together by disaster were eager to make new connections.
Human beings are connection-making machines. It’s what we’re best at. We connect ourselves with other people, of course, and animals. (Exhibit A: cows, dogs, cockatoos.) Even plants aren’t immune to our urge to bond. (Exhibit B: begonias.) People even manage to feel deep and real connections to entire landscapes. (But talk about unrequited love—no one ever got so much as an air kiss back from a prairie.)
When bad things happen on a large, city-wide scale—think hurricanes, earthquakes, Godzilla wreckage—it’s astonishing afterwards to observe the incredible kindnesses that blossom. People bond like crazy, like there’s no tomorrow—which in fact, there may not be. That’s what it was like during and after the SUCs. And to some degree, because hardship hasn’t gone away, the urgent need to forge connection continues, too.
Jill Riddell is a writer in Chicago. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute and has a weakness for nature, magic, and pennies abandoned in sidewalk cracks.