For most of my teens and early 20s, I really resented my childhood and the way my parents chose to raise me. I resented that I didn’t grow up in a sitcom where every problem could be solved in 30 minutes or less. I resented that I didn’t even live in a family where I knew I’d see both of my parents every day, maybe share a meal with them or have a conversation about how our days went. As an adult, I’m thankful for my childhood and for having weird parents because everything else in life seems so much easier now.
A few weeks ago, there was a pretty big storm. That night, I came home to a blackout. Once I got into the apartment, I lit the giant candle that I keep on the stove for power outages. My iPhone was dying , and had I realized I would be coming home to a power outage, I would have charged it on the drive home. However, I was issued a new Droid phone at work that day and had just charged it. I was thankful that I still had a way to call the power company to make sure the outage was reported and to check on how long it was estimated to last. I also used some battery power to send a tweet:
Anyone else get the urge to watch movies during power outages? Guess I’ll just read an eBook by candlelight. #goodnight #15%batterypower
— Angela VonSchmittou (@scarletloser) September 20, 2013
Oncor already knew about the outage and estimated it would be fixed by 2 am. It was just after 10 pm at that point, so, I decided it was The Universe’s way of telling me to chill out and go to bed early because I hadn’t gotten much sleep that week. I had tortilla chips and frosted cornflakes from the pantry and got ready for bed. So, I took a very quick shower by candlelight and laid down in bed. Then, I heard a soft rustling noise. I hoped that it was just Elska in the other room, but I knew it was a big roach (we call ’em “waterbugs” in the South) walking on paper. Normally, I just vacuum up waterbugs, and then vacuum the entire apartment, hoping to smother it in dust and pet dander. No power meant no vacuum. I lit my power outage candle again and got out of bed to look in a paper bag by my bed where I suspected the roach was. I didn’t see anything in the bag and the noise had stopped, but I kept looking. Then, I felt something under my foot…
I’m pretty sure I called the roach a GD em effer as I ran to the bathroom. I knew I had to act fast, so I got a wad of toilet paper. Then, I got a bigger wad of toilet paper. After flushing the bug down the toilet, I washed my foot and rubbed it with anti-bacterial stuffs. I had the heebie jeebies, but I was pretty proud of myself because I’d never “directly” grabbed a roach like that before. I went to bed, feeling accomplished and began to mentally list the reasons why the the day had been good.
I began thinking about how I did most of what I did during the blackout on autopilot because I was used to it growing up. Whether it was because of a storm or because someone forgot to pay the electric bill or because we couldn’t afford to pay the electric bill, I knew what to do and what not to do during a blackout. As a kid, the electricity always seemed to go out right when I was taking a bath. My dad would bring a candle or flashlight to me and would stand outside of the door while I finished rinsing off because I was afraid of the dark (well, not so much the dark as ghosts; we lived in a haunted house). I’d finish my bath and my dad would remind me that we have to worry more about living people than dead people and everything would be okay. If my mom was home, we would all sit around, talking in the candlelight for awhile. Sometimes, my dad would play his acoustic guitar and that would sooth all of us. When I was ready for bed, my parents would tuck me in, making sure that I felt safe in the dark. They’d even leave a candle burning for me so I could fall asleep. I was reminiscing about all of this when I heard the click that meant that the power was now working. It was 12 am, two hours before the estimated return to service time. I continued to lay in bed, mentally listing good things about my life until I fell asleep.