What do you do if the power goes off? Me? I don’t do much.
My husband was working, playing his bass in a band at a party for people we didn’t know.
I stayed home to write a column. But first I washed my hair. Clean hair helps me think. So I washed and dried and de-frizzed it with a flat iron hot enough to split an atom. Why does hair always look better if it knows you’re not going out?
When I sat down to start writing, I realized it was 6 p.m., time for Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference Finals with the Portland Trailblazers, a team I admire, and the Golden State Warriors, the team I love.
My husband, also a diehard Warrior fan, sets games to record if he won’t be home. Did he remember to record it? To check, I turned on the TV and tried changing channels.
Here’s a confession. I barely know how to work our TV. I’m not proud of it, but there it is. I seldom watch it without my husband, and if he’s home, the remote is glued to his hand. But surely I could set it to record the game. How hard could it be?
So I started fiddling with the remote, switching channels back and forth and getting nowhere.
Then a funny thing happened. Everything quit. The TV. The remote. The Wi-Fi. Even the lamp. What did I do wrong?
Wait. The lamp? I tried some other lights. Nothing worked. Hah! The power was off!
I was so relieved to think I didn’t break the TV I did a little victory dance. But why did the power shut off while I was fooling with the remote? Did I maybe, like, overload a circuit?
We had recently moved to a new place. I could barely find the bathroom, let alone the circuit breaker thingamajig. Even if I found it, could I fix it without risking electrocution or setting my hair on fire?
It was getting dark. Raining hard. My cell phone was nearly dead. The nearest neighbor wasn’t near. And we didn’t have a land line because my husband had insisted we’d never need it.
So I called him on my nearly dead phone. To my surprise, he answered. The band was on a break. I heard laughter. Folks were having a good time.
“Our power’s out,” I said, “and my phone is almost dead and I thought you ought to know in case you want to call me.”
He didn’t want to call. He just wanted to play his bass. No surprise there. I knew he was a musician when I married him.
He told me he’d gotten a text from the power company saying our power would be off until 10 p.m., about the time he’d get home. His big concern was if the TV was recording the game. He was also concerned for me, of course. He’d have said so, no doubt, if my phone hadn’t died.
Suddenly, my survival instinct kicked in. I found candles, but no matches. A big sweater and fuzzy socks. And a flashlight that worked, hallelujah, so I could maybe find the bathroom.
What would I eat? We had half a loaf of banana bread. And a stick of butter. I wouldn’t starve.
And what exactly would I do for four hours in the dark? I looked at my laptop. The battery was charged, good to go. So I decided to write this column.
But first, I took a few moments to sit alone in a dark house, listening to rain and watching a neon sunset light up the clouds.
I thought about my sister, who lost power for five days in a blizzard and didn’t miss heat as much as she missed her TV.
And about my brother, who is blind and has lived his life in the dark, bearing every burden by turning his face to the light.
Somehow I didn’t feel alone any more. And I began to write.
Our power finally came back on. My husband got home early. The TV recorded the game and we watched it. The Warriors won. My hair was clean. And the column was almost finished.
When life seems hard, it helps to count our blessings, knowing it could always be harder, and that for some, it’s never easy.