It’s the first week of 2013. Superstorm Sandy blew through two months ago.
“The power’s out.” My son calls me at work to tell me this, and it all comes back—the cold, the dark, the days without power. I have flashbacks. My heart starts to do its palpitation thing and I reach into my bag for a Xanax even as I’m dialing the number for the Long Island Power Authority.
“Your power will be back on by 11 a.m.,” a recorded voice assures me. I am not optimistic.
• • •
When I arrived home on the seventh day of the Sandy power outage, I was greeted by darkness and the unwelcome smell of things rotting in the refrigerator. “Tomorrow,” I told myself. “Tomorrow I’ll come here with some big garbage bags and clean this fridge out.” I let the thought run around my head for a minute, then I burst into tears. Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Are we really going to have to do this again tomorrow?
I stood in my dark, smelly kitchen, an unholy mess of empty water bottles, half-finished cups of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and unopened mail scattered around me. I kicked a Poland Spring bottle across the room and then, in a halfhearted attempt to bring some order to my life, picked it up, took it outside, and dumped it in the recycling bin, which I put out at the curb like it was a normal day.
I walked back to my car, dejected and just a little pissed off. Dusk had arrived, and the lights in the houses across the street flickered to life. They never lost power? How can that be? I asked myself. I knew the answer: My house is on a different grid. But those warmly lit homes served only as a reminder of what I didn’t have, and I found myself irrationally angry at them, especially the ones who had their Thanksgiving lawn decorations inflated and lit up, Charlie Brown and a giant turkey taunting us as they tilted in the wind. [...]