I’m writing this post from a friend’s house because we haven’t had power since Monday evening. It’s barely been three days but feels like three weeks. Our town was hit hard enough to knock down scores of giant trees and cause some major damage, but there was little rain here so we are extremely fortunate to have no water or tree damage at our house.
I’ve only been able to see snippets of the news but from even the little I’ve seen, there are so many whose homes and businesses have been destroyed, I would feel like a heel to complain at all.
There are quite a few obvious drawbacks to not having power. The most challenging for me is our house getting increasingly colder as the week drags on. I wear a minimum of 4 layers and try to keep moving. Wilson is feeling antsy about missing so much work. The kids have been troopers but they get stir crazy in the evenings and have been stomping on each other’s last nerve about every 20 minutes when stuck inside.
But despite those petty grievances, I’ve been trying to stay positive because it could be SO much worse. So this post is about all the positive results of living through one of the worst storms in U.S. history.
Time with family and friends— It’s so rare these days that we get to spend this much time together. School and activities have been canceled and we weren’t able to get to work for days so there’s no rushing. We’ve had to conserve phone juice so that’s put a limit on talking and texting. That just leaves time to read, relax, clean, and play board games. We’ve spent every night with friends, eating what’s left in the fridge by candlelight and drinking wine by the fire. We’ve been able to reach out and see friends we normally wouldn’t because everyone’s plans are on hold and there’s time to check in.
Sleep — I can’t tell you the last time I’ve gotten more than 8 hours of sleep for several days in a row. Even on vacation I manage to stay up late. But with no power, TV and the computer can’t tempt me. There’s no incentive for the kids to be up late when it’s so dark and everyone’s going to bed, so we’re huddling under the covers early and staying in bed later in the morning. I can already see lines on my face disappearing! Now if I could only continue this sleep pattern in real life.
Cleaning out the refrigerator — It’s an odious job and you never know what you’re going to find. This week we’ve been forced to do some scary smell tests and stifle our aversion to waste by tossing more than I’d like. But we’ll have an immaculate fridge and a task I have pushed down on my to-do list for months is now complete.
Renewed sense of community— The morning after the power went out my friend Ilysse called to say she had power so we could come to her house and recharge, get warm, use wifi. We have spent time there twice and they could not have been more generous or welcoming. I also spent most of today with my friend, Meredith, whose son is one of Aden’s pals. We normally would never have had the time to spend an afternoon together chatting, but what a treat. In addition to the heat and technology hookup, she introduced me to a friend who is a fellow writer/blogger who I never would have met otherwise. Our town has power and the streets and restaurants have been packed with people– friends and strangers– asking about our status and willing to help if they can.
Back to basics playtime — The kids don’t have TV, the computer, or video games to distract them. They’ve been playing football outside every day, walking to town for lunch or a trip to the bookstore, and playing games at night. Because there’s no school I coerced them into mandatory reading hour every morning before they go outside. Interesting that they have not complained or cried boredom once. The only downside is too much time together so they have been fighting more than usual but overall, kicking it old school has been a success.
Survival skills — You never know how you’re going to react in bad circumstances. I’m proud that despite all the inconveniences, our family, friends and town persevered and made it work. Necessity is the mother of invention and we had to improvise a lot this week but we looked at it as an adventure instead of a burden and we are better for it.
Gratitude — I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thrown a light switch this week out of habit, forgetting we had no power…. or how often I realized we couldn’t complete a simple task without the internet. And as I stomp my feet around the house trying to get feeling back into my toes, I yearn for a warm house again. But then I think of the people who have no house or possessions at all. When the power goes back on, we will have a new appreciation for the things we take for granted every day.
I mourn with the nation for those who lost their lives and/or livelihoods due to superstorm Sandy. Once I plug back in I’m sure I’ll be obsessed with watching the coverage to try to catch up with all the tragic stories. But in our little corner of the world, the week was actually a bit of respite that made us realize what’s really important.
How did Sandy affect you? Tell me in the comments.