The Blackout


I think the microwave clock read 4:24. My daughter noticed it first. Black where the numbers should be.


The power went out.” She jumped up and down, giddy.


She’d been waiting for this day since last summer’s blackout. She’d loved every dark minute — the neighbor’s pool, the Chili’s dinner, the candlelight sleepover.


I just thought of the groceries I bought yesterday, and how long did I have until they spoiled, and that my phone wasn’t charged.


I gathered the girls and we piled into the car, bound for Target. I needed a car charger, and something cold to drink, and a craft. A craft would do us all good.


The line of cars stretched to where the sun don’t shine. My bad idea kept us cramped in an SUV for more than an hour, twitchy and sweaty. My girls just wanted to play in the street at home. But no, I needed to be out and connected and Good God, would that cop wave us through already.


We made it to Target, where the automatic doors stood open, a cast of motley characters (surely up to no good) perched outside the wide, dark entrance, and a few employees assured us some of the cash registers worked thanks to the generator. My daughters and I tramped through murky aisles to Electronics, and looked nervously about for zombies and other creatures of the blackout.


It was probably six when we returned home to a cul de sac full of neighbors, and as my kids popped out of the car, I ran inside to find something pot lucky.


The next four hours passed by camper torch and curb candles, as previously heretofore unseen neighbors crept out to sing in the driveway and plan pumpkin carvings for Halloween.


We saw each other this morning, some watering lawns, others saving bikes from sprinkler spray, and awkwardly waved.


The lights were back on.


The garage doors worked.


The line of cars were once again cars on the way to somewhere important, where all the cash registers worked.


{This is a post for my friend Heather’s brilliant “Just Write” series.}


8 Responses to “The Blackout”

  1. Jo says:

    This was lovely. I could picture it all so clearly.

  2. Love this subtle ending…

    Isn’t that reality for you?

    All the awkwardness and wet bikes.

    I want a power-outage, too.

  3. green girl in wisconsin says:

    You went SHOPPING during a blackout? I am giggling at the thought! I opted to hunker down and stay home…figuring the chaos during a power outage would give me a bigger headache;)
    Funny how kids think things like power outages are fun.

  4. I would pray for power outages but thanks to my boss’ unfailing faith in PG&E, I would end up twiddling my thumbs at my desk, waiting until the clock said it was time to go home.

    But your post does make me rethink living in the ‘burbs. And its all good.

  5. Moments like that are great for creating adventures for the kids, or so I try to spin it.

  6. Heather says:

    wow, lady. You are GOOD at this writing thing. But we all knew that :)

    Thank you for joining me. I appreciate it MUCHLY.


  7. Jen says:

    I was just thinking the other day that is might be really, really nice, just for one night, to go downstairs and purposefully turn the power out in my house. To really connect with the people I love. Nothing glowing, but some candles.

  8. Les says:

    We had a fun night during the blackout too! We were staying in downtown san diego, it was bizarre to see the whole city go black. Turned out to be a fun night though… glad we weren’t stuck in an elevator!

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