Blackout

Blackouts happen infrequently enough in San Diego that I see them as a novel adventure. Our city’s first notable winter storm of the year happened on Monday. Around 8 pm we saw the lights start to flicker in our house and a minute later the power was gone.

 When the power goes out you talk to your neighbors a lot to find out who’s got the latest word from the power company. You also hear their war stories of past blackouts. Chuck and Rae, who live across the street, say they lost power for a full six days a few decades past. In this case, electrons started arriving again at 3 pm the next day.

But for a while we got to rough it. The central heat shut off and I closed off half of the house to sequester the warmth, generated by body heat and candles, in the bedrooms and bathroom. We read by candlelight and located the odd things we needed with a flashlight.

We’ve gotten very accustomed to electricity always being there and this was made obvious in the way we would reach to turn on a light switch as we entered a room, even after the power had been off for hours.

A neighbor told of how she walked into her garage and threw the switch although she was going there to look for candles to replace the lights that weren’t coming on. It occurred to me to look for a space heater to warm us up until I realized you had to plug those things in too.

If the power went out in San Diego as often as it does in Bagdad I’d start to consider it irritating. Until that happens I’ll enjoy knowing what it was like to live when the world was dim at night and when you didn’t have to be plugged into the TV or the Internet at all times.

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