The power is out. It’s pretty bad. I knew something happened while standing in my backyard. I heard a sound and looked up to see the power lines undulating between the poles. I figured a limb fell at my neighbor’s house. No. A tree fell two blocks away. Completely taking down the power lines, snapping a pole in half, and crashing all elements into the pavement. So yeah, the power is out, and probably will be for a while. We live on a dead end, so literally, there’s no way out of here. We’re stuck.

We took a walk to see the damage and met some neighbors for the first time after living here for a year. But the mosquitos are hungry outside, and it’s humid. I don’t like trying to read by candlelight. There’s no internet, obviously, so all I could think to do is open a Word doc and type. It’s making me think that if this lasted for a long time, what would I miss the most?

  • Convenience

I know in my head, that the electricity’s out. I know that it takes electricity to power a light bulb and illuminate the room. But my hands are not aware of this circumstance, and continue to turn the light switch on every time I cross a doorway.

I could totally manage living in the 1800’s. My wife, on the other hand, has said “I would never make it on the Oregon Trail. We’d come to the first river to cross and that’s where I would live. Actually, I would just never leave where I was.”

So, it’s not that I can’t or wouldn’t. But man, I love that things are there when you want it. All of these things that Settlers would think are magic. Lights, on! Microwave, cook! TV, Weather forecast! OK Google, what happened to the actor from “The Sand Lot?”

  • Air Conditioning

I can’t sleep when it’s hot. I’ve been camping in summer, stayed in hotels with poor AC, in other people’s houses with unreasonable temperature preferences (like 73). My sixth sense is instinctively knowing that someone adjusted the thermostat up one degree. It’ll be 1am and I’m peeling sheets off me like wet Saran wrap. I can’t sleep hot. My wife can’t be cold. Not even just during sleep time, like ever. The Fall season initiates her hibernating feature, and if you disturb the shutting down process, it gets ugly. She can’t be cold.

We’ve managed to find the sweet spot in the Venn diagram of household temperature. And I recognize the fact that I take for granted how luxurious it is to set that degree, or even tweak that degree to what suits me in the moment. Tonight may be a long night.

  • Refrigerator

I realized, if I think hard enough, I have a photographic memory of the inside of my refrigerator. Like a ninja, I can open the correct door, and at just the right angle snag the string cheese out of the drawer and shut it before any cool air is lost. You’d have to replay the security camera on slow motion to be able to tell that something even happened. (This is totally what ninjas do in their spare time at home).

It’s not that I’m going hungry at this moment, or even for the rest of the night, but it’s a fear of not having food in the future. This was always a fear of mine when our college choral group would travel and stay in people’s houses. I just knew I was going to go hungry. Once a family graciously ordered pizzas, with everything, and I just can’t handle onions and green peppers on a pizza. But I did my best to survive. Then there was the trailer in nowhere Illinois. The one where he said, “don’t use that shower, that’s where the cat litter is.” The one with the living room lined with various empty beer cans as decoration. The same one where it smelled like dog all night, only to find out the next morning that I slept in the dog’s bed. But the owner may not have known that because he sleeps outside in a tent. I did not eat much that night.

I love food. And I love knowing that there will be food.

  • White noise

If you pay attention, everything that plugs in makes a noise of some kind. Your laptop has a fan, the radio buzzes, light bulbs hum, the AC, Dishwasher, Washer/Dryer, fridge, TV, radio. But when the power’s out, the sound of silence is deafening. Right now I’m driving my wife crazy with every keystroke; a sound that wouldn’t even be noticeable with the TV on. Every time she exhales, I wonder if it’s an annoyed sigh at something I’m doing. I hear every airplane in radius. Crickets and frogs are singing. It sounds like the neighbors are talking on our front porch. There’s a fly in the room. It’s maddening. We’re surely going to kill each other by the end of the night.

Years ago I removed the battery from a clock Grandma gave us because the tick-tock would keep me up at night, singing “Yankee doodle went to town…” along with the second-hand beat. I could enjoy a peaceful night in the desolate parts of the Western plains, but without something to muffle the sounds inside, I’ll go crazy.

This fly must die.

What I don’t miss.

  • The Internet

Surprisingly, I don’t miss the web-o-sphere. I would otherwise probably be on it this whole time. But for whatever reason, I don’t miss it when I can’t have it.

Seriously, this fly has got to go…..

OK. Got him. Carry on.

Scrolling Facebook, scanning what’s trending on Twitter, looking at headlines and assuming what the article says just so I’m caught up on the news. It’s all just a way to pass the time or stimulate my laziness. It’s not stimulating my boredom because there’s plenty to do. I’m just too lazy to do it, and the Internet encourages my poor behavior.

  • TV

We don’t really watch TV anyway. We’ve never had cable. Currently, we have a digital antenna and a Netflix subscription. And sometimes I wonder if Netflix is worth it (but we’re in the middle of 30 Rock Season 3). The kids don’t watch it that much. There’s not really anything we can watch as a family anyway. After the kids go to bed, we have it on more as background noise while we scroll the Internet.

  • Obligations

It’s only temporary, but when the power’s out, there are a dozen things that you cannot do. Doing the laundry is completely out of your control. There will be no dishwasher, vacuum, work email, or anything that requires more than a candle or flashlight. All of it is beyond my control. And rather than it being a stress weighing on my mind, it’s quite the opposite. I’m at peace, feeling like I have a brand new (limited) slate of options. In the end, I’d probably rather read, type, think, or relax anyway.

Thanks: fallen tree. Your sacrifice has given me time to reflect. You gave me time to blog after four months of being “too busy.”

I’m thankful for electricity. And in some ways, I’m thankful for when it goes out.


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