When I was in grad school, my mentor asked me why I felt I always had to be strong. I thought it was a ridiculous question – I had two pre-schoolers, a difficult marriage from which I was extricating myself, no job, no proximate support system – uh, what were my choices? Wise fellow that he was, he then rhetorically posited – ‘Isn’t it possible for someone to be both strong and weak? Aren’t there risks you run in being either one or the other?”
I loved that guy.
So here I am in the ridiculously, unforgivably hot and humid suburbs outside Washington, D.C., trying to remember what it was like last Friday, when we had power. Some irate storm tore through here on a whim, arbitrarily kicking down power line after power line. I’m not sure what the storm was so annoyed about – my hunch is it needed an attention. It got it. Initially in its wake, there were some amusing moments. The only open Starbucks within miles had a line that slithered around the shopping center by 7:00AM Saturday morning. We were all jolly enough – smiling indulgently at the babies in pajamas still dozing on their parents’ shoulders, the weary comparisons between strangers “have you heard when the power is coming back on?”, the snarky looks at people asking for two venti triple-soy-no foam-lattes, with one and three-quarter pumps of hazelnut (really? there are six hundred people out here). There was a run on gallon jugs of any kind of water so that people could flush their toilets (many of us are on well water – you get the picture), bags of ice and an abundance of good humor.
It’s been four days and counting. No one is smiling. There are some assurances that everyone will have power restored by Friday. We have so lowered the bar when it comes to our expectations it’s ridiculous. That’s a post for another day. Suffice it to say, I haven’t seen one truck on any of our major roads, let alone our neighborhood. I guess they’re starting farther out and working their way in. Happily, my son and daughter-in-law got their power back last night, so I am sitting in comfort at their house, happily connected and soooo thankful that the Sirs have stopped panting. They of course are so wiped out, they’re snoring (which in dogs is kind of cute, in husbands not nearly as endearing).
I am strong – and I’m a wimp. I don’t do heat well, and humidity even worse. My fingers look like Viennese sausages, my joints look…gross. Let’s not even talk about this oily slick that covers my skin, not necessarily an attractive glow per se. It makes my shorts cling to me – and I don’t even like my shorts that much. My flip flops don’t flip or flop – they’re glued to the soles of my feet. When I left my house to drive over here, it was 96 degrees upstairs and a balmy 88 on the main floor. I want my power restored. The frozen food melted all over the kitchen floor yesterday – I want to refill the coffers. I want my house back. Don’t get me wrong – I am beyond grateful that my kids are here – they are gracious and loving and wonderful. But I’m fried – literally. And when the customer service person told me (after being on hold for twenty minutes) that we weren’t even on the repair list yet – I lost it. I know that my mom would have referred to these as ‘silken worries’, but she was wrong. Deny a person sufficient sleep and food while seated in a sauna and you can wear a body out.
I did learn a few things though (hey, it’s me, when don’t I learn something…amazing to be this old, and find a lesson in almost everything). I learned that people you’ve never met can matter more than you could ever imagine. Rhonda, Lori, David – thank you for being my friends – in whatever universe we have found ourselves. I only hope I can return the favor by telling you that I keep you in my thoughts pretty damn regularly – and they’re all good thoughts. My sister who graciously confirmed for me that I AM royalty – or at least “royally pissed off” made me laugh while I was hiccuping with sobs. Allie and Angus – ‘hang in there hugs’ that inclined me to do so. Aaron – who called at just the right time and said just the right things to his mom. Matt and Liezel who told me I was being ridiculous about my hesitation to invade their home – with the dogs. My kids – my heart and soul. I remembered that there is beauty in silence – unless you have tinnitis. And of no less importance – for all the really ugly behavior that we see or read about everyday, there are still some really cool people out there. And friends of course are cooler still – regardless of what the thermometer reads. Happy to be back among the blogging…