Didja hear the one about the two massive winter storms that merged and battered the Northeastern United States over a 24-hour period? Yeah, I did, too. I lived it, man. I’m sure some of you did, too. It was something to behold and, in my mind, the worst storm I’ve lived through. That’s not to say there haven’t been worse storms in my lifetime, there have been. The Blizzard of ’78 and Hurricane Katrina come immediately to mind. Except, I was six months old for the former and didn’t live on the Gulf Coast for the latter (neither beforehand nor afterward). Like most people around here (Southeastern Massachusetts), I took the weather people’s warnings with a grain of salt. I’m not one of those who think the TV weather people are always wrong, I don’t. They’re right more often than not, welcome to the 21st century! But I’ve been around long enough now to know that when storms hit Southeastern New England, they tend to fizzle out.
So imagine my surprise by what happened next.
I went shopping Thursday night, not to load up with pre-storm frozen pizzas, chicken pot pies, milk, and bread, but to do my normal grocery order. Thursday was when I got paid and that’s when I went. I had my iPod Touch with me so when I finally got my groceries, I could read in the long, long lines. It helped. A voice in my head warned me as a grabbed the dozen eggs, and the two gallons of milk, and the package of chicken breast, but the few times we’ve lost power in my life, it’s been turned on fairly quickly. And the worst of it happened because of hurricanes when I was a child. Even the Superstorm that hit the Northeast only knocked out our power for about three hours.
We lost power sooner than I expected. Not all power, roughly half of our apartment still had power. But some of the lights and the tv went out at 6:50 Friday night. The refrigerator also went out at that time. As did the heat.
No sweat, I thought. They’ll get it back on soon.
Twenty-four hours later, I began to worry. Forty-eight hours later, I was downright scared. We did our best. What we could plug into the places where power existed, we did, which meant extension cords across the apartment Sunday night and Monday morning.
Oh, and I forgot to mention, my 3-month-old daughter had her first cold from her first week at day care.
Yeah, that put everything in perspective. Luckily, my 14-year-old was with her mother and they didn’t lose power. But the baby with the cold was bundled up and watched diligently for the 64 hours we went without power. Finally, the power came on at 11 AM on Monday morning.
The fucked-up thing is that when the power went out Friday night, my immediate thought was, Shit, we lost the internet. By Saturday night, I couldn’t have cared less about the internet. All I really cared about was getting the heat on so the baby would be okay.
She is okay. Her cold is mostly gone though she has an ear infection. I had two bonus days off from work, and next week is vacation, so that’s a good deal. It’s easy to forget when you deal with teenagers (which I do every day between my older daughter and my students) that they have to get there. They have to get to that point where they’re gaining independence. They have to be taught and nurtured to get there. Nothing brings that home like having a baby in your arms, whose cherub-sweet face turns up to yours and smiles, not because she wants something, not because something funny is happening, but because you’re Daddy.
It still happens with occasionally with the teenager, though I spend a great deal of time wondering how badly I’m screwing up, and those moments are sweet. But as a high school teacher, I’m all too aware that the clock on childhood is ticking and soon, she’ll be Away, At College. Making A Life For Herself. With the baby, I’m helping to make her life. And that means something huge.
We were lucky in this storm. I have friends who only just got their power back today. There are plenty who still don’t have power or heat. Or the internet. Hopefully, they have something to remind them about life, like I did.
I’m remiss that this is my first post of 2013. With the 3-month-old, you can imagine how easy it is to get to the computer. When I do, I tend to be catching up on work for the Day Job or working on The Novel. There is progress there, I promise. Hopefully, I’ll be back here sooner than later. Be safe and warm, my friends.