Left in the Dark

On Saturday afternoon I sat alone in our house surrounded by an eerie, totally unfamiliar kind of quiet.

The only sound I heard was Nikki breathing as he sat near my feet.

No hum of computers, no fans or air conditioning, music or television, no ringing phones or ice plinking into the freezer bin. No microwave beeps, no doorbell, and no air moving anywhere.

A surprise storm blew through Northern Virginia Friday night that brought at least 80 mph winds, lightening, thunder, and a deluge of rain.

credit: Leslie Perales

We watched the trees bend almost in half and gasped every time we heard a new roar of thunder or saw the house light up with lightning.

Trees were uprooted and dropped on decks, garages, porches, fences, cars, and lawns. Trees were split by either winds or lightening.

Our electricity flashed off and on, and then stayed off. As of now, it still hasn’t been restored.

Nearly 100-degree heat, high humidity, and no air conditioning.

We migrated to the basement until we couldn’t take it anymore.

Today we cleaned out the freezer and the fridge and got rid of all our perishable food.

When my sister told my mom about the storm and our loss of electricity, Mom said, “Just what I need. Another thing to worry about!” (Remember my mom is the world’s finest worrier.)

My sister said, “Mom, you don’t need to worry about her. She’s hot. That’s it.”


We’re not like the people we see on the news who have lost everything to fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and floods.

We’ve just lost electricity.

And, it will come back on.

Clearly we are uncomfortable, out of touch, and out of sorts without our cool houses and our cool technology. But, really, it’s nothing to worry about.

My sister is right. I’m fine. I’m just hot.

I also can’t blow my hair dry, cook dinner or keep food cold, but still, these are relatively minor things.

As I moved from one place to the next last night trying to find a reasonably cool place to sleep, I thought about how much I rely on the luxurious infrastructures of my life.

I have an interior support system with my faith, beliefs, values, people, and a positive mindset that keeps me personally propped up.

Then, I have the exterior scaffolding of my life like my home, car, food, water, and all my stuff, like my phone and laptop, washer and dryer, and everything that makes the chores of life easier.

When these infrastructures are disrupted, it’s like a major support beam of my life is knocked out.

Right now, my exterior infrastructure is down.

My family’s infrastructure is down.

So we’re dipping deeper into our interior support systems and relying on gifts of perspective and happy dispositions to keep us going.

We’re trying to make a mini-vacation out of this mini-disaster. We’ve played a few games, had some good conversations, laughed a lot, and had a slumber party in the basement.

We’ve also spent a lot of time in the car trying to get cool while we charge our phones for when we have a brief signal.

Life without electricity is less than fun, but it’s made me wonder — is the real disaster that we don’t know what to do with ourselves when the world goes quiet and the lights go out? Or is it that we are so reliant on our luxuries that we forget how much we appreciate them?

Or is it as simple as what my sister said? I’m fine. I’m just hot.