On day six of our seven day trip to the beach we made what seemed like a very good decision. It was hot. Hot hot. And it was getting hotter. We had been to the beach, the pool, the outlet malls, the board walk. We had eaten crabs and drank some wine. We’d had a good time. And the prospect of dragging our not yet sunburned selves out to the water for one last day in more than hundred degree heat seemed unnecessary. My grandmother always told my mom, and she in turn always told me, that you should always leave a party while you are still having a good time. So, it seemed wise. I had an appointment to get my hair cut at 9 am.
I went short. And I am glad I did. When we got back to DC it was even hotter than it was at the beach. So, we went to the mall. Naturally. We basked in the glory of their air conditioning. Emily decided to get her hair cut. We took pictures of her new do and we relaxed at my parent’s house. We went to bed early. And I am glad we did.
Some time around 11 it started to rain. I went to grab Emily from where she was sleeping. She is not a big fan of thunder storms and it seemed like we were in for a doozy. I had no idea. My compulsion for checking the weather came in handy. A quick peek at the radar indicated that it was no small thunderstorm. The lights flickered. The ceiling fans turned off. I settled in for some sleep with my girls.
In the morning the power was still out. Em and I went for a ride. We were hunting down a cup of coffee. Seemed easy enough. Wrong. On my third trip through the intersection aptly titled Seven Corners with no traffic lights I told Em that we were going home. With or without coffee. With our lives and what remained of my sanity in tact.
We spent the day preparing for the power to remain out. My mom fashioned curtains for the windows in the kitchen out of pillow cases to help keep it cool. David found the last generator for sale in Northern Virginia. I kept both my children alive while slowly regressing to about fourteen years old. We went out to dinner. We “made the best of it.” A euphemism for “did not kill one another.”
We camped out in the downstairs bedroom. Em, Lucy and I slept in my parents’ bed. They napped on the air mattress. We all woke up warm and cranky. Emily survived watching movies on the iPad. I read. I bickered with my mother like the teenage drama queen I had become over the last twenty four hours. My mother declared that she was retracting our application for Family Survivor.
Every family has a go to coping mechanism. When I was little and the power went out we would gather around the fireplace and read fairy tales. When Things go to shit in your house maybe you go to church. Maybe you go to a local bar. Maybe you go out for ice cream. May God, Buddha, Mother Earth and the whole rest of the gang smile down on my step-dad for all of his days. When everything goes to hell in his world he goes to the Ritz Carlton.
Something about showering with tiny bottles of liquid soap and wrapping yourself in big white towels and drinking a very, very large glass of white wine does a body good.
We survived the power outage in DC. My almost seven year old daughter knows absolutely every single swear word in existence. Those she did not learn from me she learned from my mother. Passed on from one generation to another. That’s how you do it, right? And from my step-father I have learned an invaluable lesson. Tough it out. Long enough to say that you did and then get your ass to the nicest hotel in town and order a drink. Make mine a double.