When the Lights Go Out

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Some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around power outages. I remember being around 5 and the power went out during a storm. My parents, my brother and I sat in the basement and played Chutes and Ladders by candle/flashlight. And because our game was old, we spent a lot of time searching for the spinner by candle/flashlight after it had flown off….

When I was 11, my hometown had a terrible ice storm and power was out across the city for days. The first night, my family and I sat in the basement huddled together by the fireplace. Dad heated up soup on our (luckily) gas stove. My brother and I played with the wax that dripped off the candles, making various shapes (I remember a dinosaur in particular). My family’s power was out for days. Dad had to stay at the house to keep the fires going in the fireplaces and to make sure that the water didn’t freeze in the pipes and burst. The rest of us stayed at my uncle’s house, as his power had been restored. My school had been cancelled because the heat still wasn’t on. My mom (a teacher), and my brother (who was in high school) both returned to work/school, so I went to my babysitter’s, as usual. Her son and I (not usually very good friends) played together outside, making up the game “Ice Busters,” and using his dad’s hammers to bang on the ice on the driveway and sidewalk. I’m pretty sure we broke at least one of those hammers.

Two summers ago, my hometown had an awful wind storm in mid-July. The storm saw 90 mph straight-line winds that knocked power out for days, again. Trees were knocked down all over town. Tree removal crews had to be called in from all over the state. My parents were out of power for 10 days. Not fun in the midwest in July. Lots of time was spent sweating and being grumpy. I was grateful that I was out of the house by that point, and only had to experience the misery when visiting home one weekend.

My conclusion is that power outages are considerably more fun when you’re a kid and you can play games and when you have parents who can keep you occupied so you don’t get too scared. Being an adult in a power outage (particularly in the summer) does not equal a good time. You have to worry about the food in your fridge spoiling and how you’re going to make meals when all your appliances are electric. If you have children, you have to keep them occupied. Just no fun.

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