Our power used to go out frequently. Sometimes we’d hear the transformer blow. Sometimes we’d see the lines on the road. Other times, it just popped on and off for several days in a row. I don’t know if the utility companies have better maintenance routines to prevent the failures or if it’s just been a good long spell of luck, but I can’t remember the last time we had a power failure until it happened last week.
When I heard a muffled boom not dissimilar to a single firecracker in a mailbox, I was home alone. It was a crisp, clear night and the windows were open. I was sitting in a chair with a book, waiting for the rest of the family to straggle in from their various activities. One boom and I was sitting in darkness experiencing the temporary shock of silence when all the humming appliances and electronics ceased their background noise.
Unlike when the power outages were frequent and we kept emergency lights plugged in to activate at the loss of electricity, I couldn’t think of the location of a single flashlight. There are large oil lamps atop the kitchen cabinets, but glass and flammable liquid aren’t really something you want to blindly fumble to find. I grabbed the only thing I could easily access in darkness, the grill lighter. I carried it like a wheezy torch and descended to our windowless basement to find my cell phone. I texted the husband until he returned home with one of the children. For the rest of the evening, we did what we did when the electricity went out regularly and social media was fun instead of depressing, we facebooked sarcasm.