A Hot One

By: Tanya Ward Goodman

Last week, when temperatures soared into the triple digits, our electricity went out. It was seven o’clock and I was just getting dinner on the table. The kids were in the bathtub and there were leftovers being brought to life in the microwave. And suddenly, it was dark. The kids shouted for joy because they like anything weird and dramatic and vaguely apocalyptic.

“Blackout, blackout,” they shouted.

My husband and I scurried around, looking for emergency supplies. We turned up two very small flashlights and an assortment of scented candles. When we got them all lit, a slightly sickening combo of orange-vanilla-gardenia-cucumber-amber-grapefruit mingled with the aroma of twice microwaved pasta. Delightful.

“We are so screwed in an earthquake,” my husband said.
“We really should get our ducks in a row,” I said and I made a mental note (mostly because I couldn’t see to make a real one) to buy candles and whatever else we might need to keep us safe in a crisis the next day.

“Look up emergency kit on the internet,” my son shouted.

“Can’t,” I said. “No electricity means no computer.”

“What?” he said, the enormity of the situation beginning to hit.

“Yep,” I said. “No computer, no television, no radio, no i-Pod.”

“This is crazy,” my son said. “What are we going to do?”

“Eat dinner, talk about our day and go to bed,” I said. “We can read books by flashlight.”

“Boring,” my son said.

Somehow, we made it through dinner without succumbing to ennui. The candles flickered and we talked about our day. We talked about homework and heat and we wondered how long the lights would be out.

“I’m scared to sleep in the dark,” my daughter said.

“But we always sleep in the dark,” I said.

“Yes, but we know we can turn on the light.”

I assured her that we were safe, that the lights would come back on and that in the morning, electricity or no, there would be sun.

“Okay,” she said. She snuggled down into her bed and went to sleep.

Though we talked of emergency kits, this wasn’t a real emergency. We had a full refrigerator and running water. Because we could see the lights on the hill opposite ours, I knew that the Trader Joe’s was open and so we were in no danger of starvation. We have two working cars and enough room on our credit cards to check into a hotel if we had to. But we didn’t. We spent a night without lights and in the morning, there was sun.

I am grateful. (And I am going to stock my emergency kit.)

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