After five days without internet and four days without electricity or water (I have a well), I woke up at 5:00 this morning to a flashing light on my electric clock. At that moment, it was the most beautiful sight in the world. Tropical Storm Isaias was brutal to the Northeast U.S. Here in Connecticut, the news confirmed an EF1 tornado touched down. Today, I am contented to return to my prosaic life, mundane as it is.
As I shook myself out of my 5 a.m. fog, and the realization hit me that today would be a return to normalcy, my countenance must have mimicked Shelley Long’s expression in the 1986 movie, “The Money Pit,” when she realized her disastrous house had running water for the first time. I couldn’t find a YouTube clip to share, but I remember her exact words, “It’s a miracle!” I agree. A shower never felt so good.
The period of exigency, which seems short in retrospect compared to others still in the dark but seemed longer with little information and profuse apologies from the electric company, went something like this: Four days of squabbles as our patience wore thin; running to the store for jugs of water to fill up toilet tanks, bottled water to drink and propane for the grill and outdoor stove; gratitude that we have a grill and outdoor stove; remorse over not having run the dishwasher and not finishing the laundry following the storm warnings; blessings that it is summer, and we were able to get out; worries over lost work time; regretfully, throwing out questionable food items and hurriedly consuming edible food with little appetite to avoid waste; and, of course, pledges to buy a house generator for the next time. Buying a generator, a consideration tossed around now and then, was never acted upon because previous outages had not lasted more than one night.
I was in denial at first as I kept thinking how lucky we have been in the past when previous disasters hit the area. I don’t know if it helps that the wires on my road are underground or the area’s elevation is high, but I had deluded myself into believing good fortune would magically continue. Now, painstakingly aware of our vulnerability and how much worse it would have been had it been winter with no heat and no capacity to buy supplies, I see a generator in my future. It is not a planned expense, but it’s either spend money on that or a divorce lawyer. As we listened to generators running in houses around us, my husband said, “I am never going through this again.”
Deprivation of any kind, especially the basics of water and hygiene, brings out the best or worst in people. I thanked the angels of technology that the cell service held up, enabling me to complete a transaction for a résumé writing job, and cursed the electric company for failing to give an expected repair time until just yesterday. My son was mad we didn’t have a generator, which annoyed me because he was the least impacted, having a friend’s house with power where he could shower and use the internet. My husband was a bear to deal with. Fights ensued when he refused to eat out, even outdoor dining, because of the looming fear of COVID-19. Being highly stressed as a norm, his inability to continue working remotely and dread of the prospect of going into the office, especially without a shower, holding it together was tough.
Funny, but I always feel like holding it together for everyone is my job. Maybe it’s a woman thing. I took charge of planning courses of action, cleaning out the refrigerator, preserving as much food as possible and calming everyone’s nerves so we can get through each day. Resentful that I find myself in that role but proud of the accomplishment seems to be the trope I perpetuate.
I really wanted this post to be humorous, trying to find the funniness in all the escapades of missing creature comforts, whining about it, scurrying around for supplies and family bickering. Maybe that will come to me later. Right now, I guess I just needed to vent and breathe a virtual sigh of relief. Tomorrow…off to shop for a generator.