It happened fast. One minute I am looking for the lentils that I will make for dinner. The next, I am in total darkness.
My first instinct is to find my boyfriend, J. He is studying for an exam scheduled for tomorrow. His first instinct is to locate flashlights and batteries. J sets up a flashlight on the coffee table in the living room and floods the room with soft white light. I peer outside to confirm that the problem is not a fuse blowing in our house. Except for the lights from the occasional cars on the road, the neighborhood is shrouded in darkness.
It is a little past 6pm on Thursday night, November 21st. The darkness is furnished with a soundtrack of winds blowing between 20-30 miles an hour. I was aware of the high winds but too busy to pay much attention. Now, the sound is pervasive.
As J dials the number of the electric company, there is a loud knock at the door.
“Don’t open it”, J says, in a cautious voice. We are both accustomed to city living. We know that we live in a safe neighborhood of Santa Rosa but the reaction is automatic.
“Who is it?” I ask.
“It’s the neighbors…candles.”
We have a dozen or so candles and we are not using any of it so I am happy to share, I think. I open the door to a couple. He is holding a flashlight. She is holding candles and matches. She hands several candles to me.
“Oh, I already have some,” I say. When she continues to try to give some to me, I gingerly take a few. I accept a large box of matches too. Those could be useful because I do not know where mine are right now. They say something about us being new to the neighborhood and probably being unprepared. I am touched by their generosity and thank them profusely.
J continues to study in the living room, using the laptop batteries that are fully charged. I eat a peanut butter sandwich and read a novel on my iPad. When I get bored, I draw.
We take a break at 7:30ish to start a fire in the fireplace. The neighbor’s matches come in handy. It is a beautiful fire and warms the room quickly.
The lights come back around 9:48pm. My plan for the evening was to cook, eat, read, and write. I was unable to cook. But I ate, read, and drew. I also wrote most of this blog on my iPad while the lights were out. Plus, we enjoyed our first fire in the fireplace in our new home. I make a note to return the candles and matches tomorrow. Since I do not know which house they are from, this will be a good excuse to meet the neighbors.
I am not accustomed to power failures but this one was not so bad at all.