I came home last night to a warm, illuminated house. Not a rarity, normally, unless you have become a resident of the state of Connecticut in the last three months.
I didn’t have power for the better part of four days — and I’m one of the lucky ones who got it back before the week is out. I have guilt about this. They’re forecasting a restore time of Sunday at 11:59 p.m. for the majority of the Farmington Valley (where I live), capital Hartford and its glamorous offshoot, West Hartford. Heaven help Connecticut Light and Power if they go even a second beyond that. Tempers around here are hair-trigger, and I don’t blame people.
Even as I’m typing this, I don’t know how my little hippie ‘burg got so lucky to get power back. I’m working a semi-late night shift at ESPN, one that sees me getting home around 11:30 p.m. For the last few days, it’s been a ridiculous drive home, as there are no stop lights working and I don’t have the best memory of where they should be. Since the Valley is composed entirely of tree-lined two-lane state routes and not highways, there are no other alternatives to getting home. And people drive fast — myself included — so I’ve found myself doing the ol’ “Okie Roll” through the absent stop lights, when I see them. Often I don’t see the stop spots until after it’s too late… Sorry, Connecticut!
There’s nothing spookier than driving home in pitch blackness, except my drive home from ESPN during the nor’easter itself on Saturday — but that’s another story. Suffice it say my knuckles have never been whiter, and Garrison Keilor’s voice more welcome. That calming man got me home. Back to last night — I was so surprised when I pulled up into my little town of Collinsville to see it not only lighted, but kinda bustling. We don’t have a convenience store (C’MON QuikTrip! I NEED YOU!) in our area, but we’ve got a semi-nightlife, oddly enough. I’m not complaining about the power being on, it’s just odd that we got it back before other, more populated, parts of the state.
I think it has something to do with the trees. We’re on a sort of mountain, and the trees fall forward, it seems, and don’t do a ton of damage. My drives home from ESPN have been not only darkened, but full of peril. Felled trees crowd the shoulders, and my poor baby Corolla has accidentally scraped many a branch I didn’t see. Giant trees dangle perilously on power lines overhead, nearly touching the top of my car. Broken trees lean in, hugging the restraining fences but nearly winning the inertia war. I’m convinced one is going to just snap off and fall when I’m underneath. My driveway at home is partially blocked by a huge limb too — but I just park where I can at this point. One of my neighbors blocked entrance to the semi-circle drive by parking her car in the middle and retreating to safer parts when the nor’easter hit. Not that I blame her — but it’s a parking free-for-all outside my ancient home.
No restaurants are open in the Valley, as far as I can tell. If they are, they’re accepting cash only, which I don’t have — and ATMs are electric, it seems. I’m eating at home or at ESPN every day. Accidentally dieting, as it were — I’m a fan.
I awoke yesterday to a digital clock flashing in my face and I didn’t understand why. I was under two heavy blankets, my spare bedroom’s comforter and my down comforter, a cave of warmth, with a sleepy orange kitty cuddled with me. (The dog has personal space issues and sleeps on his own bed; Percy Cat doesn’t care much for anyone and sleeps in the other room. Penny, however, thinks I’m the best thing that ever happened to her.) I leaped out of bed when the ray of understanding hit me that yes, dear, that is electricity — and I made the happiest pot of coffee. With ground beans. I brought in all the stuff from my refrigerator/front porch and marveled at what stayed viable. The days are getting up in the 50s, but it’s so cold at night, the milk stayed fine in the shade, as did everything else. Connecticut’s trash will be extra-smelly the next few weeks with ice cream and meat remnants, but if you put your stuff out in Nature, you at least got something edible out of it. If the ‘coons didn’t get it — that’s why I hung mine. I am SO country sometimes.
So I got up yesterday, drank coffee, reveled, washed some clothes, and then the power went out again. I ran to the bathroom to take the world’s fastest shower, and resigned myself to the fact that we wouldn’t get it back again — but it came back in 15 minutes, and it’s stayed on. I had chicken soup, watched ESPN, and curled my hair with hot-rollers. I put on an actually carefully planned outfit, not the first warm thing I could lay hands on. Let me tell you, changing clothes in a 48-degree house is ridiculous — strapping on a bra is akin to strapping frozen bags of corn onto your midsection. And I never remembered to keep my clothes in bed with me, like some suggested — besides, with the cat, they’d be coated with even more fuzz than normal.
Just to recap my first three months in Connecticut: Earthquake, hurricane, October nor’easter. I expect state officials to ride me out of town on the proverbial rail as soon as they pinpoint that I’m somehow behind this. I guess my Oklahoma weather juju just came with me — and for that, Nutmeg State, I apologize. With intensity.
In the aftermath today, and yesterday, music is sweeter than ever, which is saying a lot, since my music collection is like fine dining to me. I heard the Osborne’s “Rocky Top” and felt complete again. As I’ve typed this, the silly Bangles song “In Your Room” has been on — I bought it a long time ago when I was in love or something — and I didn’t even try to change it. I’ve only changed it when it’s played the slow sad stuff. Can’t have that right now. It’s a time of relative joy.
What saved me from my four days in darkness was reading and my iPhones, which I ran dry every night, if we had cell service. Lost that for a day too. I finished Patti Smith’s “Just Kids,” which is EXCELLENT, and got about halfway through Jerry West‘s “West By West.” I went to West Q&A session the other day at ESPN. He’s a wonderful, charming man who makes me hate the Lakers a little bit less — but not much. His book is funny, conversational, intriguing, enlightening — and candid. I appreciate his honesty. I read both under battery-powered light. I tried to remain thankful for the multitude of blankets I had, and the job I have that has showers, warm food and Starbucks — ESPN got me through the hardest part.
Haha, “Dancing in the Dark” just came on my iTunes, no foolin’. I didn’t do any of that — too cold — but I did channel some of Bruce Springsteen’s grit since Saturday night — and I hope everyone else can too. It’s tough. But it’ll be over soon. And he’s right — you can’t start a fire without a spark. I should’ve also mentioned that the entirety of Connecticut smells like a campfire.
If this doesn’t end soon, there will be an apocalypse that zombies will fear — seriously, cold, bored people can only take so much.