The power left our house in a dramatic exit the night Hurricane Sandy hit. My son and I sat playing Monopoly. I had just escaped his torrid corner of Park Place/Boardwalk (not realizing that while we played, actual Atlantic City streets were filling with ocean water), when an explosion cracked outside with such intensity that my son hid under the table. Outside, through our wall of sliding glass windows, we watched the night light up in a blue glow; transformers exploded one after the other from one back yard to the next, and the lights went dark.
Once we took stock the next morning, we could see we were one lucky ones. A tree fell through our neighbor’s house. Another tree took out a gaggle of wires, poles and two fences in the yard adjacent to mine. Then there are the countless people who lost their homes and belongings. The devastation at the Jersey Shore. Long Island. Really, I know we were lucky.
With that said, our story can only be told as a positive one. No one was hurt and at most, I lost a couple of bags of frozen ravioli. We burned through firewood like crazy. I also learned quite a bit about my electric panel—and that low, and behold—that electricity doesn’t come from the wall! It runs on gas, ya’ll.
And because half of our street lost power while the other half remained lit, we ran an extension cord to a willing neighbor. Soon enough, orange cords ran across the pavement from one house to the next. Now we had limited electricity. A charged iPhone here and a charged computer there gave the kids some normalcy and an escape from the gloom of the day. Also it gave them a reprieve from me.
Mostly I kept my head in a positive place. I was fine—really, God dammit all we did was lose power temporarily—but by mid-week my “fine” turned into “What the fuck?!” So the kids learned a new word through all of this. If that’s the worst of it, watching your 3-year-old holler, “Why doesn’t this fucking dress fit Snow White?” then you’re not so bad off.
Our half existence of power also left us with a false sense of security. A neighbor’s house got broken into, as many houses did throughout the town. Jewelry was stolen and, disgustingly, the robber left a calling card in their toilet. We hid our computers, jewelry box (I don’t have much, but I didn’t want anyone rifling through it) and any other electronics that could be swiped. Cops drove by flashing search lights through our front windows as we squinted under blankets.