Saturday, July 7, 2012
Totally In the Dark
If you read the papers--or if you have friends or family in the Greater Washington DC who, like me, tend to revel in complaining about the weather--you'll know by now that at the end of June we got one helluva storm here in Ol' Virginny, followed by a blackout. While losing electricity can be a sort of adventure, a chance to live all "old-timey" and eat by candlelight, the fact that this one came in the midst of a heat wave was....problematic. The fact that it lasted for days was nerve fraying.
We retreated to the basement, hiding from searing heat during the day and sleeping on makeshift beds formed out of sofa cushions at night. The dog was panting and looking at us beseechingly, "Really, you guys can open the dog food cans but you can't do anything about this damn heat?" One night as I lay there suffocating under a wet blanket of humid air I thought about how millions and millions of people all over the planet live like this every day; subject to increasingly violent and unpredictable weather they suffer through without refrigeration, without air conditioning, without coffee makers for the love of god. I silently acknowledged how very lucky I am to live when and where I do.
But because I am a very good multitasker, in addition to this compassion for others less fortunate I was able to feel a deep and abiding pity for myself. It is this ability to redirect my attention to my own suffering that makes me a true American, I think. I proved that I am not equal to our pioneer forefathers. Hell, I wouldn't have lasted long in about 1950. Also, any plans I may have been entertaining about becoming Amish have gone out the window--the solidly-closed-to-seal-in-the-air-conditioning window. Now, a week later, we once again can contribute to global warming by keeping our own living space cool, we are slowly refilling the refrigerator with expensive foodstuffs, and with the cushions back on the sofa the dog can once again take up all the space while we watch our stories on the Tee Vee. And I am able to boot up the computer and do the monthly report for June. Enjoy!