I have heard it said that, “If you wish to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
I distinctly heard a low rumbling which then turned into a full belly laugh disguised as thunder just before the power went off at 11:15 pm. This was met by a sudden onset of screaming by panicked (and over-reacting) children. This was, of course, met by sighs, huffs, and colorful expletives on my end.
I did the normal denial routine; the one where you walk through the house in total darkness questioning other occupants about the status of their television and madly flipping light switches. This is then followed by more sailor-esque vernacular as I proceed through the house tripping over toys, furniture, husband and children while moving to the circuit breaker—because it is obviously a tripped circuit.
Only, it is not the circuits. To my utter astonishment, nothing is tripped. So, I make another clumsy circuit of the obstacle course, which is my home; stumbling to the front door. During this daring jaunt that leaves me hurdling toys and kids like Lolo Jones, I begin counting the days until my next BGE bill is due and wonder if this is one of Constellation Energy’s jokes for my payment being consistently late.
Luckily, as I throw open my door, I am met by sheer darkness and a clamor of voices all bemoaning the same fate as I. While this serves to momentarily ease my mind, as misery loves company, my irritation level is multiplied within mere moments by listening to my own complaints mirrored in those around me.
I move back into my home in search of candles and my hubby’s handy, dandy flashlight. I order all of the children into an exile upon the couch; before, bestowing a candle atop the coffee table in front of them. This novelty serves to amuse them for about 3 seconds. Second 4 is met with all the children simultaneously asking if they could hold the candle. This is met by a resounding, “NO!”
By this point, the air I have spent all day conditioning is growing hot and stuffy. I now have to wander through the house with the flashlight and open all the windows before everyone passes out. This solution, however, is subpar. It is 90 degrees outside. Suffice it to say, it is nearly 3 am before the kids finally pass out with exhaustion. The hubby and I do not sleep. We spend the remainder of the night tossing and turning and being generally bitchy. Any time we happen to brush one another in the bed there is huffing and puffing that would make the Big Bad Wolf, himself, jealous.
It is stifling upon waking at 7am; both my hubby and I look and smell like we have been lost in the Sahara for days. I consider the hubby a saint for even deigning to drop a kiss upon me while in this shocking state of smelly disarray, I might add. It is during my personal stock-taking of hygiene that I realize the coffee maker requires electricity—a luxury we still did not have. This, of course, pisses me smack off.
I learned long ago that I could not function without my morning shot of caffeine. To ease my frustration, I slam a few things around in the kitchen and curse my husband’s thrifty ways. It was certainly his fault for telling me not to buy a can of instant coffee as, “Who knows when you’re ever gonna need that, it’s just going to go stale.” I berate myself for marrying a spendthrift as I stomp up the stairs to throw on something quick.
I stomp back down the stairs. I am sure I resemble the Mad Hatter.
“Where are you going?”
“To find a trough of coffee to dunk my head into, that’s where.”
“Uhhh…..I don’t think you’re going to find any, everything is closed.”
“Bullshit, I WILL find coffee.”
“Fine, suit yourself.”
I march right out the front door with purpose. I am going to find coffee. The first block was walked with optimism. The second block with mild disgust at the interminable heat. The third block with stoic resolution to prove to myself and the hubby that I can find coffee. A mile later I spot an oasis in the desert which is now Baltimore—7-11.
While preparing two cups of Ganoderma Lucidum enriched coffee (great stuff by the way)—I have decided the hubby must need fuel as well and I will not let his pessimism keep me from proving him wrong by offering a cup when I make it back—I determine that our power will soon be back on if this 7-11 has power. I wait my turn in the million person line, pay, and then begin the trek back home. Little did I know that those cup holders they give, which are intended to keep the cup from burning your hands, are a joke. I spent every fifth step setting them down to give my palms a rest.
I finally make it back home. I present the hubby with his cup of coffee which he accepts with noteworthy gratitude. I am not quite as smug as I was when I saw the 7-11. I am now sticky and smellier from my walk. I look at my hubby as I flop down in a chair.
“Any ideas for the day?”
I contemplate for a moment here. I know there is a park up the street which has brackish water the kids could splash In and look for tadpoles. I could make a picnic basket of food to take; it’s only going to spoil with no power. At this point the coffee is beginning to kick in returning not only my sanity but also my optimism. In my mind a Norman Rockwell image of the kids happily cavorting about the stream fetching tadpoles while the hubby and I lay on a blanket in marital bliss is forming.
“Let’s go to ———rock park!”
My idea is met by the rising of one eyebrow. I am not amused.
“Yup. We are going to the park to have a picnic and you WILL love it.”
The eyebrow inches up further yet. I am not deterred, I meet his gaze head-on. He shrugs nonchalantly.
“Ok, the park it is.”
8 hours later I am even hotter, stickier, smellier, and more agitated. The kids have had a blast. We had the picnic, found tadpoles, and even hiked a bit. The only problem was by this point in the day it was now 102 degrees and the niggling thought that the power may not yet be restored began to consume me. Guess what—it was still off when we got back.
The kids are mortified. How is this possible? A whole day with no television or the Wii? It is at this moment I realize how often and to what degree I totally take for granted in my life how dependent I am on electricity and how blessed I am to not be a pioneer woman. I took a few deep breaths and then determined we’d spend the rest of the day guzzling water, barbequing, and finding lighting bugs. Those ideas went off without a hitch. We truly made the most of the day and enjoyed our time with each other.
It took another whole 24 hours before our power was restored. There were moments I was an intolerable and vexed woman but for the most part I was happy despite the inconvenience of having no power. I got the chance to take a break from my electrically driven existence. I had conversations with neighbors I hardly see. I spoke to workers who suffered 100+ degree weather to restore my power. I read Jane Eyre again and realized how fabulous Charlotte Bronte is.
But most importantly, when the power came back on I heard God’s contented sigh with my newly remembered gratitude, in a warm summer breeze.
I left the windows open that night declining the joy of conditioning my air….
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