Tuesday, July 12, 2011

When the Power Goes Out

A line of storms rolled through my central Indiana locale last night, knocking out power for a while.  My wife and I are pretty "wired" people.  We have an entire room devoted to our computers.  You might call it an office.  It doubles as a game room, hang out area, and, yes, sometimes a dining room.  It is adjacet to the kitchen.

As you might expect, then, it is a major event when our power goes out.  There is a moment where we each have a mini-panic attack, flipping switches and trying to turn on some lights.  Then, of course, we realize that, dur, the lights depend on electricity too.  Are we the only ones that fail to make that initial intuitive leap?  It only lasts for a minute or two, but it's a harsh wake up call, forcing us to realize just how much we depend upon electricity.  It's not just the computers and TV.  It's lights.  Clocks.  The AC.  Fans.  That one lamp we've never used but tried because - hey, it's dark in here.

After we dig out a flashlight, then curse a bit feeling around for the appropriate battery.  Then switch it on.  Then curse a bit because the batteries are dead and we should have just gone to the "battery drawer."  Then finally get some light only to have it slowly start dieing in your hands as the "new" batteries that haven't been used in three years (everything is rechargeable these days, right?) start to lose charge.  Then your wife comes in using her cell phone as a flashlight and you think "oh yeah, we still have those." 

After all that, maybe you find a few candles.  And a lighter.  If you're not a smoker, finding a lighter can be a sort of mini-adventure in its own right.  The wife points out that "see, aren't you glad I'm sort of psychotic about having candles?"  Ecstatic, dear. 

The house begins to smell like Christmas cookie.  In July.  There's a hint of Ocean, and maybe some Smooth Peach Lavender Rose-petal Tulip Surprise.  And Cinnamon.  Always Cinnamon. 

If the lights haven't come back on yet (sometimes they just like to screw with you), then you're probably sitting there like we were thinking: Now what.  You've just been dealt an unexpected break from life.  This is where my wife and I somewhat differ.  She played with our rabbit, played some games on her phone, and texted some friends.  I went straight for the bookshelf - or, in this case, the Nook... thankfully charged. 

The irony of reading an electronic book by candlelight was not lost on me.  Even as I wedged my butt in the recliner so that the flickering flame struck it just so, I marveled at the oddity of the situation.  The warm glow cocooned me, isolating me from the bunny oinks and girly giggles, and I pressed the button to open the pages.

If you've never read by candlelight, I suggest you try it.  There is something very primal about it.  It reminds me of when I went hunting for the first time.  In my mind, I was transported back to another time, a different place.  I felt closer to my ancestors.  The worries of modern life floated away.  What would it have been like in a time where your job was simply staying alive?  Finding food?  Where the only entertainment at the end of your grueling day was a book?  Or maybe just stories around a fire...

The lights snap back on.  I blink.  The house hums back to life doing its usual house things.  The bunny freezes near my feat, a guilty ball of fluff.  I look over at my wife.

You know, they didn't have very good medical care back then.  Or ice cream cake.  That's a lot to give up.  Still, I can't help but look forward to the next time the power goes out.  I wouldn't want it to happen all of the time, but in small doses, it seems good medicine for my soul.  I'll take my breaks where I can get 'em.


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