Yesterday early morning there was a blackout. After all-night heavy wind and rain, electrical grid finally gave up and I welcomed this fact like an old, missed friend. Friend who, initially, brought only a darkness to which eyes must slowly adapt. Darkness and silence when refrigerator turns off and fans all around the house stop. Then comes the search for a flashlight or candles to produce at least a tiny flame to illuminate stairs. And finally one nagging thought: how do I make a tea if everything in my house runs on electricity?
I love everything about lack of power. We don’t have a garage entrance from the inside of a house, so when Agnieszka needed a car, I had to stand in the rain, soaked, trying to remember how to override electric garage door and then lock it again without stucking myself inside.
Boiler uses electricity as well and it was pretty cold, so I had to put some wood into the fireplace and start a fire. At least heating has some backup. I tried to boil some water in a pot (I really wanted that tea), but I only burned myself. So I sat, in the greyness of autumn’s morning, contemplating the fire and enjoying warmth and silence of an empty house. Made a sandwich, poured some water and waited.
And then it all abruptly ended. Power outage lasted for about 2.5 hours and when it was over, when sounds of surrounding machinery came back and purple LCD of my radio flashed, I felt that I have lost something. Isn’t it strange? I only felt it after electricity had returned, together with a bundle of great achievements of our civilization, but before I was… relieved? relaxed?
In Guards! Guards! Terry Pratchett said that one must be really rich to live like a poor. I know I am privileged to enjoy these moments of slowdown and not think about all possible outcomes. I wouldn’t be so joyful about them if I didn’t have a house with a fireplace. Or well-paid job with a boss who won’t fire me for 2-hour delay. Or refrigerator, which even when unpowered, prevents food from spoiling.
But I do have these things and I love power outages. Because they feel more real, more true to what real life is, if only for a moment.