We sit in the morning light, sipping coffee and calling each other names. I don’t mean it. I don’t think he means it. I hope he doesn’t mean it. We turn on the radio and revel in our recent bad music choices. Holding pretend phones to our ears, we lip-sync along: “So call me maybe.” It’s our official song of The Great Blackout of 2012. We are sweaty; we have no shame.
Despite the fun and games, patience runs thin and tension is high. I stand in front of the fan, run by the same generator that wrenched my back. I am bone-tired. I have been kept up for nights on end by excessive heat and the sounds of generators; going off, going on. Like babies crying in the night — growth-spurting, colicky, overtired, non-sleeping babies. I haven’t been this tired in nearly four years. I have forgotten how sleep deprivation makes everything worse, emotionally and physically.
Mom calls. Again. “Do you have power?” I want to snap, “Don’t you think I would have called if we had power?” I hear my sons in the background; I miss them. Deeply. I breathe and tell her I’ll call as soon as the power comes on, tossing the phone at a couch cushion before picking up my book. I get lost for a page before I look up at the ceiling fan. It moves.
Much rejoicing. Phone calls. Checking on neighbors. Resetting breakers. Calling my husband, called off to the fire department, asking questions about what powers what and how — all with a big smile plastered to my face. Laundry and dishes and putting away batteries and organizing the clutter and cleaning up the bird cage and on and on and on. Never so happy to clean up the house, to do the little things that make a house run.
Power. Electricity. It all spells freedom.
The best part of power restoration, however, comes the next morning. It’s not getting to sleep in — in an air conditioned room with a ceiling fan running without being jarred awake by the sound of another generator starting. Though, let’s face it: that’s great. It comes around noon when I finish the drive to my parents’ home, walk through the front door and feel two little bodies slam into my legs, arms wrapping around me and squeezing. “Mommy! I missed you so, so much!” Kisses and hugs and more kisses and more hugs.
Later, upon returning home, I tuck them in under cool sheets, placing their blankies nearby. I kiss their sun-bleached heads. I close my eyes and sniff, smelling sunshine and boys. As I slip beneath my fresh sheets, I breathe a sigh of relief.
The long darkness is over.
We have survived, in tact. We learned some things, both good and bad. I feel thankful for the bits of time given to me that I wouldn’t have otherwise had — for laughing with my husband and reading and learning how to use our new smoker and fireworks and early morning coffee on the porch. I don’t want to live through that any time again — soon or later — but the unplugged-ness of it all was something special. I’ll write more about that later. Maybe.
In the end, my husband and I have started a new “thing” as a result of the extended outage. We drink coffee and read on the porch in the morning before the heat of the day, the work that must be done and the noise of two boys drives us in separate directions. We maybe still call each other names, but I don’t think either of us mean them. Too much.