Living Life Ohio Parenting

The End of That One Thing

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.

Living Life

Long Nights

There’s something to be said for silence.

And darkness.

But less so the darkness, as I pierce it with flashlights and a half-charged iPhone. I dance around extension cords running to fans, also now silent as the generator gets to sleep through the night as well. Everyone needs rest in this heat, in this trying time.

I sit quietly, hoping the mosquitoes don’t find me. They do.

I think of how much I miss talking to people — my husband at work, my children off with grandparents and — at the late and dark hour — asleep, the people who live inside my computer silenced on my end. No power, no friends. I attempt to connect with them via my smartphone, but the network is jammed, everyone lacking electricity trying to reach out to others in the same way, thus silencing ourselves further. I feel thankful for dinner with friends earlier in the evening — laughter and catching up making the day speed by — but now I am alone.

The long night goes on.

I flop in bed, realizing that even if the power doesn’t come on soon, I’ll need to change sheets. Sweat, salty, leaving marks on the pale green, a semi-high thread count that is usually so cooling. Now? It sticks to my skin and I vow to buy the really expensive sheets next time. And then I think about buying the bigger generator, so we can run the whole house and not just a fan. And then I think about moving to San Diego where power outages no doubt occur, but it’s currently 70 degrees in San Diego. Not 100. I won’t leave Ohio though; I’m not sure when it became home to me. But it is.

I get up and lock the bedroom door, afraid that the heat has melted peoples’ brain waves and that looting will come to my quiet, sweaty neighborhood. The house settles and creaks, making the sounds that it should as we’ve only been here a few months, and my eyes dart from dark corner to dark corner. Eventually, like the birds, the house settles down. Aside from a lone generator whose owners didn’t let take a rest in the distance, all is quiet. And I am alone.

I make plans. Big ones. I write stories. Long ones. Book long. Series long. I grow my hair and dye it fire engine red. I lose the weight and run a marathon. I bake delicious pies and come up with award-winning new recipes. I dance again. I sing again. I organize my house, top to bottom and inside out. I landscape my yard. I create things, beautiful things. I photograph everything. I stand strong and proud.

These images free-float through my brain, through my soul as I try to find a comfortable spot in a big, empty, sweaty bed in the middle of yet another long, dark, powerless night. I realize that the darkness, the absence of distraction, allows me to dream bigger than normal days — or nights. I listen a bit more closely to my heart and my breath catches in my throat. How long have these thoughts and dreams been floating around my soul, unable to be grasped because I’ve been moving too fast, doing all of the things? How long have I been ignoring myself in favor of getting it all done?

I roll over and look at the clock; only ten minutes have passed.

It’s going to be a long night.


Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.