The electricity was off to my house yesterday. I was amazed at how incredibly different it was, sitting in the hot, dark house as night crept over the neighborhood. The windows were all open and we heard other folks outside, talking or just wondering about when the power would be turned back on. There was no storm, no bad weather that might account for the outage. But for about six or seven hours, we were back to pre-industrial revolution era.
The heat was the worst, and having just gone through a few days without AC it was a double insult to me. However, there was one thing that I’ll really always remember – we were all hot and bored, me, my wife and our youngest daughter, stuck in the dark living room with the big LCD TV silent and blank, when I got an idea. I ran upstairs and grabbed my netbook and my small USB drive. The battery would last a few hours, and I brought it down, plugged in the thumb drive, and opened up a media player.
We didn’t watch a movie, not on that tiny screen, not that I had one on my drive. What I did have was an audiobook of Stephen King’s IT. Both my wife and daughter have seen the miniseries, but only I read the book itself. For a couple of hours, we sat around the tiny computer, its screensaver turning the electronic window dark, as it became essentially our radio. It was actually nice, and if you didn’t move around, the heat wasn’t so bad. We just sat there, listening to the guy read the book aloud, our imaginations creating images of characters that the miniseries had not included (which, honestly, has cemeted my interpretations of the main cast).
It was terrible and wonderful at the same time. Eventually we all started to drift off to sleep and I shut down the media player. A few minutes later the power came back on and we all rejoiced, but we didn’t immediately turn on the TV or rush to the computers. No, we went to bed, that soothing voice still in our heads. Perhaps the old timers had it right, and sitting by the radio in the dark of night really was magical. Perhaps we didn’t know how good it was till it was all we had left.