When all the lights go off…

As I drove home on Thursday afternoon, I noticed that several traffic lights were out. That’s odd, I thought, but if I drive just a little further, the power will be on and it will feel like the usual leisurely drive home. Not so much. In fact, there was no power in the entire San Diego County area – and beyond.

What happens when you lose electricity, without another cause, such as a natural disaster? After I safely arrived home, our first stop was a dip in the pool. With all of our fans off and the temperature over ninety degrees, our apartment was sweltering. Neighbors stopped by to ask us if we had heard anything new about the outage. Many of our neighbors stayed out around the pool for much of the evening, talking. People began – or renewed – connections with each other. When Luke and I took a walk around the block, we inhaled the smells of neighborhood barbecues and saw people chatting on their front lawns. We looked up at the night sky, scattered with stars and illuminated by the bright waxing moon.

Luke and I found plenty to do with our time. After dinner, I read and he organized files by candlelight. The outside noises were limited to a few passing cars. It was like the city had taken a pause and given people permission to slow down.

Of course, there have been downsides to the power outage and its aftermath, such as people running out of gas, sewage leaks, boil water advisories, etc. I’m sure people have a better idea of what they need to get for an emergency disaster kit for the future – I know that we do.

Our power came on abruptly at 3:00 a.m., waking me with a start as the fans started up again. We were grateful for the cooler apartment, and were able to sleep much more easily after that point. While most schools and universities were closed on Friday, things are slowly returning to normal. People replace any food that spoiled. We wave at our neighbors. But hopefully, we will hold onto the memory of the times when a group of acquaintances becomes a community, even if for only a few hours.


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