My plan Monday night was to go to bed early. It’s been an extremely hard couple of weeks, and a good night’s sleep seemed just the ticket. So around 9:15 p.m. my thoughts were leaning toward my pillow.
Then the lights went out.
Like many of you, my family is not terribly prepared for these breaks in the system. I often think about where to stash those gallons of water and canned food in case of a major earthquake, but of course I have no extra gallons of water or canned food, so the exercise of where to put them is just that.
My wife is uber-organized, and knows where the flashlights and other emergency things are, such as they are around here. And there are always batteries, even if we have to steal them from my son’s video game controllers, so there was enough light to navigate around the house.
But when the lights go out in my town, that’s news. And I have a laptop that runs on batteries. So I called the PG&E media line on my battery powered iPhone. They’ve been pretty good in the past about getting back to me with causes of problems.
As of 7:45 a.m., I am still waiting for this multi-billion dollar agency charged with providing us essential gas and electricity to explain to me and my users why hundreds, perhaps thousands of us lost power last night. If and when they do, I’ll let you know.
Meanwhile, it seemed a good excuse to grab my kid and do a drive-around of the town. Martinez is eerie when it’s swathed in total darkness. It would have been an excellent time to take some “where in Martinez” shots—even Chris Kapsalis wouldn’t have been able to identify them, because they would be invisible (though maybe he could—Chris has some strange powers sometimes).
As we drove down Brown St., not a light was on. Turning onto Court and heading downtown, it was as though a flood of darkness had invaded the town, not unlike the flood of raging Alhambra Creek water back in the day. It took me back to a time in this city when every night must have been like that—when only the glow of candles and kerosene lamps illuminated that thick blanket of darkness.
When we got home, my family sat on the porch and just enjoyed the night, gazed at stars and listened to the stabs of sounds that came drifting up from the valley. There was a peace within it, a release from responsibilities, the ability to just sit in the darkness, with the darkness, and just be. It was, quite frankly, delicious.
Then, with all the intrusiveness of an unwanted guest, the lights came back on. And with it, the pull back into the electronic world – check the Giant’s score, check work email, check personal email, check Facebook, check Twitter. I mean, an hour or so had gone by with no communication to the outside world. Imagine what that would be like all the time.
And for a minute I did imagine just such a world. And it felt like home.