“Tough times don’t last, tough people do, remember?”
― Gregory Peck
Hurricane Sandy has come and gone, and we’re all still dealing with the after effects. It feels a little post apocalyptic with long lines of cars snaking down the highways leading up to gas stations, the loud hum of generators running outside, the roar of chainsaws on every street as people clear away downed trees and damaged tree limbs. There are still a lot of people without power. The Jersey shore is a huge mess which is going to take a long time to fix (although I heartily believe it will be fixed, we’re a hardy bunch, us Jersey-ites).
But…..I’m going to go out on a limb here (pun intended) and admit that we actually started to have fun during the whole out-of-power thing. The first day wasn’t fun – we hadn’t figured out what to do, how to handle the no power thing. Plus it was kind of scary and we didn’t know how long it was going to last and it was starting to get pretty cold.
But then we started to slowly but surely figure out how to become a bit self reliant. We have a gas stove, so turns out I could make coffee, tea and stove top food like pasta, eggs, etc. on the stove top. And it turns out that when you have town water, your toilets and water will work, so we could flush (which was, for some reason, a big worry of mine) and we had water to wash the dishes after we cooked. We could even take showers (albeit cold ones) if we chose. We had stocked up on batteries, and charged our phones on the day before Sandy hit, so we had enough light to help us through the scariness of the pitch black nights.
Then on day 2 1/2, Mike figured out how to get the 2 gas fireplaces going and the fire in the family room and living room was not only great to warm up the house, but it turned those 2 rooms into the family center where we all sat and read, or napped and just generally hung out together.
We started to fall into a rhythm of going to bed early and getting up early, cooking on the stove top, doing dishes manually (horrors, brought back memories of childhood when we had no dishwasher), and then figuring out what we would do with the rest of our day since we had no technological distractions to keep us occupied. Turns out there’s a lot more time in the day to do things, when you don’t have technology to rely on.
We cleaned up all the downed tree limbs, and Mike caught up on lots of yard work. We took Tucker on long walks. I cleaned out the frig (first time it’s been this clean since the day we moved in 14 years ago), cleaned all the bathrooms, straightened out my office and the kitchen cabinets. We visited friends who had power and who were kind enough to share the wealth with us. Kyra and I sat around reading with my mother in law, in front of the fire, covered in warm blankets and reading by the light of the day. We dozed a bit here and there; turns out you sleep more when it’s really cold (who knew). We spent more time together as a family than we have in ages (except on vacation).
It all felt very House on the Prairie-ish, and I was starting to like it. Neighbors were helpful, everyone helped out and shared what they had with each other, we all came together and it felt like a community. I kept thinking it reminded me of how things felt post 9/11.
Then just when we’d figured it all out, the power came back on. And now, to be honest, life has started to get a little hectic again. It was a nice lesson to learn, that we can all exist without our computers, cell phones, TV’s and IPads. I felt a little wistful when everyone went back to their separate bedrooms to read or watch TV or surf on their respective laptops. But there’s still a bit of residual family togetherness going on. Since the kids still don’t have school, we’ve been watching movies and eating dinners together every night for the last week (not the norm with the usual after school things they usually have to do) and baking cookies here and there.
I feel extraordinarily lucky that we only had a few days of lost power. Hope everyone without power gets it back soon, it’s starting to get really cold at night. If you’re in the neighborhood, feel free to come on over, the spare bedroom is ready for visitors, and chocolate chip cookies are in the oven.