Please read my last post in order to keep up with all the plot’s turns and twists of this nail-biter. (Or all you need to know is that my husband was traveling. Missy ended up in the ER. She is fine. There was a tornado warning. The kids, beer, a tub of Merkt’s cheese, a box of Wheat Thins and I were hunkered down in the basement when the power went off. )
The basement is pitch-black except for the glow of Junior’s DS, Missy’s flashlight over her teeny-bopper magazine and my lantern guiding me through folding a week’s worth of clean laundry that has been wadded up in a pile.
Suddenly, there is a knock at my back door. I fumble up the stairs and greet my neighbors in my pjs, braless. (It’s dark out and I don’t think my nearly A girls will draw much attention.)
“Did you know that your tree fell down on your deck?”
I start screaming before I even see what happened.
“Hooray, now we can finally replace that old deck! This is frickin’ awesome!” I am skipping to the yard in gleeful hysterics.
My neighbor suggests checking to see if there is any damage to the windows upstairs. In the meantime, my kids come out to see why I am screaming and swearing and laughing when I have only downed one beer in my stockpile.
The 80+ year old windows that need to be replaced are also intact. I was most worried about the patio furniture we just inherited from our friend’s recent move. It was the only stuff that wasn’t on its last leg. Turns out that the rotting deck barely has a scratch (rats) and neither does the furniture.
We have been through several horrible storms in the past four years that have resulted in 2 to 5 day power outages. It’s scary and frustrating, but secretly also a little exciting and liberating. All of the neighbors come out of their homes to check on each other, help with clean-up and offer their fridges if they are fortunate enough to have generators. The kids are forced to play outside which they should be doing in the summer anyway. I am not zoned in front of the TV or computer.
The night wraps up with the kids running through the street with their flashlight while the adults compare stories and check out our new tree house. I call Tom and give him the scoop. Missy had already filled him in on her ER adventure, so this was the second you’re-not-gonna-believe-this call within two hours. He still plans on getting on the early flight and heading back home in the morning.
The next morning the power is out and all I can think is: Must. Get. Coffee. I jump in the car and drive through town to Dunkin’ Donuts. There are giant trees cracked in half. Huge branches dangled by a thread over homes. Streets are blocked. Traffic lights are out. It takes me forever, and the line of caffeine addicts for the drive-thru blocks oncoming traffic.
I finally get home with breakfast to find Tom at the front door just shaking his head at the madness. I feel like an ass coming home without a morsel for him to eat. He has been up since 3 am to catch his flight home and already called his buddy to borrow a generator.
He heads out with another bromantic friend to take care of business. I wander around the house, enjoying the silence. Missy is resting at my parents’ house and Junior is running loose somewhere. Tom gets back home with the generator, we hook it up to the fridge, freezer and our neighbor’s house and he heads back out to find a larger gas can, more gas and food.
He is gone for well over an hour which is strange because all of the errands are within a mile of our house. Of course, neither of our cell phones work within reach of our home. At 3 pm, I spot him through the window talking to our neighbors and come outside.
His boobs are sweating and his eyes are glossed over.
“I went to two stores for gas cans and each had one left, but they didn’t have lids,” he pants while explaining. “All the fast food places are shut down because there is no electricity. Then I made a turn and the gas can I just filled up spilled all over the inside of the van. All I could hear was glug, glug, glug and I couldn’t pull over fast enough. I am so sorry.”
I step closer to the van and it just reeks. You can practically see the fumes.
I take another look at him and notice that is face is completely yellow-orange. Like George Hamilton with jaundice.
“Why the hell is your face orange?” I lovingly ask.
“I am frickin’ starving! I haven’t eaten all day, so I pounded back a bag of cheese popcorn while I was driving!”
I make him a sandwich with three pieces of lukewarm turkey and pray that he doesn’t get botulism because there’s a lot of work that still needs to get done. Oh, and I am very concerned for his well-being, too. Then I chuckle with my neighbor about his orange face as we douse the van with baking soda, hoping to sop up some of the stench.
“I gotta shower and lay down.”
A half-hour later, he is woken by a madman — inside our house — yelling through the bedroom door. “Is anyone home?! Hellooooooo?!! Are you in there?!”
My dad has arrived with a chainsaw.
So for the next few hours, the two of them remove the tree and Tom hauls it out to the curb. It starts to rain. They continue on. Tom can barely see straight and shuts ‘er down before the sun sets.
We are without power for another day and continue with the clean up. I drive the van out to my parents’ to work, catch up on laundry and pick up Missy. Dude, I am totally stoned by the time I get there. The gas fumes are overpowering and I discover that it has soaked into the carpet padding.
It’s gonna need to be detailed. I am sure that the workers will appreciated the fossilized fruit snacks, Goldfish crackers and vomit chunks carefully collected over the past eight years.
On the way home, we stop for a bite to eat and park next to car with a woman smoking out her window. Since I am driving a Zippo lighter, I decide to park at the end of the lot, like I own a Benz that can’t be scratched.
We get home and Glory Alleluia — the power is back on and now I can really see just how filthy my house really is. No more excuses to not work, do laundry, vacuum, cook, make phone calls, check email or veg in front of electronics.
Back to reality.
Or maybe not.
I could always go take a sniff of my van and return to la la land…
For another story brought to you by Mother Nature, check out “How to Enjoy a Big Snowgasm.”