Tuesday, June 16, 2009

powerless

Secretly, I think it’s kind of fun when things around me are going to hell.

The past couple of days have been a bit challenging for myself and those in my orbit – I bet for them, probably even more so.

My Grams and aunt returned home from a trip to Hawaii last Wednesday morning, just in time to discover a mysterious wet spot in the kitchen carpet that was very slowly, as the hours passed, growing bigger and bigger. It was found to be water leaking from the defrost tray-thing from underneath the refrigerator, seeping in to the floor. When the fridge was pulled out from the wall, the back of it was totally corroded, and the carpet underneath was black, wet, and nasty.

Meanwhile, the night they arrived home, a severe storm in the area knocked out our power, leaving us without electricity or phone service for two days.

At dusk, the next night, with no electric lights, my uncle, aunt, mother, brother, and I worked as a team by the light of a fluorescent Rayovac lantern, maneuvering the decades-old refrigerator out of the kitchen and in to the garage. Once it was gone, we tore the trashed carpet up to take out of the house and to help air out the wet floor. Straight down the center of the entire kitchen floor, the carpet and padding is torn up and just lying there folded over, waiting to be removed and replaced with vinyl flooring.

Being in the house reminded me of a long-ago visit I took to the zoo. It was so hot and humid, and thanks to the dogs that have been in the house throughout the years, it smelled of animal and traces of urine. That, with the faint smell of mold, along with the defrosting food in trash bags out in the garage, made for a not-too-pretty scene.

Kerosene lamps, candles, flashlights, tools, coolers, towels, and trash bags were strewn all over the kitchen and dining room. It was a mess – and it matched all the inner chaos I was sensing around me. I watched as my aunt, grandmother, and others worried. The money it would cost to repair all the damage. The inconvenience and discomfort of not having electricity – and the not knowing of when it would return. All the calls to family members with updates. The irritation that began to rise, in sync with the temperature outside.

But for the first twenty-four hours or so, I was really having fun. And if it weren’t for the heat, I probably wouldn’t have minded if we were without power for longer.

I’ve always liked when the power goes out. It’s an example of circumstances serving to break up the monotony of the everyday. It’s like when houseguests come to visit, with all of their unusual sounds and behaviors. Or vacations, with the change of people and scenery. Or when the car breaks down and you have to carpool, take the bus to work, find another way. It’s when you’re frustrated and not knowing how things will turn out, when they will turn out, or if they will turn out, that makes them exciting - as far as I’m concerned.

At one point during those days, I laid on the couch, and even though I was feeling miserable and stuffy - and getting irritated as a result, I remember looking up at the ceiling with a smile on my face, just because I wondered how much longer this crap would go on! I was seeing it as a game – the not knowing. It’s easier for me to see these things in a lighthearted way, of course, because I’m not the one faced with the expenses or responsibility of getting a new refrigerator, new flooring, or the carpeting of an entire house. I get that – but still…

There is a charge one gets when things are up in the air, and the end is uncertain. It’s when the shit is hitting the fan that we are reminded we aren’t always in control of things the way we like to imagine we are. To me, that is the beauty and the terror of it. It’s the Divine rollercoaster ride – and I think it can be awesome if we let it be.

I keep quiet, though. When Grams or others are stressed or whatever, I don’t try to change their minds; it wouldn’t be helpful. Instead, I just offer what I can; whatever they find useful. And then, when I’m alone on the couch, I smile to the ceiling. I enjoy listening to R&B on the static-y radio at night by the light of a candle. In the morning, I look out the window and watch the trees get pelted by the pouring rain and blown by the wind.

Some trees appear to bow again and again in reverence; other trees appear to dance with joy, their branches moving in all directions; and still, others, seem not to move much at all, as if they are taking what they get, resigned to their fate. They seem to react to the storm in different ways – just like people! It almost looks as if they have a choice.

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