There is something very specific and unique about the sound of a house without power. Absolute dead silence. A complete and total void of noise. A quiet so deep that it is like a presence. A presence hovering and intruding on your peaceful slumber. Rousing you with deep silent fingers, feeling the wrongness creeping over your body and awakening your senses. Bringing you to consciousness with the realization that something is off. It is quiet. Too quiet.
The normal hum of electronics that is never noticed, but always there . . . gone. The fan which runs each night as white noise, helping you sleep . . . silenced. All of the ambient noises that constantly hover around you at night as you sleep . . . now absent.
As your faculties come to you, you become cognizant of another reality. The darkness. A deep darkness that envelopes you in the wee hours of the morning. Void of the usual glow of soft green and orange numbers from clocks and DVRs, from hall nightlights whose soft light usually drifts like smoke under your closed door.
You learn later that a car crashed into a pole, thus taking out the electricity of an entire neighborhood. My neighborhood. Because of a possibly drunk, careless or sleepy driver, the street on which I live was blanketed in complete darkness and silence. A darkness that also awakened my oldest son, who rushed to his parents room to snuggle in, deathly frightened of that total all-encompassing darkness. Seeking a safe haven in the silence and blackness of the now still night. Three people in a bed usually reserved for only two, worried and wondering as to when the power would be restored. Trying to return to the safety of his dreams in order to wait out the quiet, unrelenting night.
Morning light alleviates some of the strangeness of the night, and the sound of a generator breaks the former quiet. You wake from fitful dreams to find that you still cannot see numbers glowing on your clock, so have no idea what time it is. While the day has dawned bright, it is also extremely cold. The lack of power in the house all night, and therefore lack of heat, has caused a chill to permeate your entire home. And while you are still snug under your covers, your thoughtful husband adds an extra layer of blankets, warning you that it is extremely chilly outside of the safety of the bed. You set the alarm on your iPhone for much later than you would normally rise, realizing that without power, you will be unable to complete your normal chores while your husband and kids are at church. Without a functioning washer and dryer, shower or coffee pot, you might as well get an extra hour of sleep since last night’s drama has sapped you of a restful sleep.
Once you finally drag yourself out of the warmth of your bed, you go into the bathroom and realize you will have to be creative if you wish to brush your teeth and wash your face, as there is no water in your faucet. You go down to the kitchen and grab a jug of water you had recently bought, not expecting to use it for this purpose, but thankful you have it on hand.
You await the projected reactivation of your power, which is currently being reported as occurring at 10:30. Another check updates that projection to 1:00. You sit bundled in hooded sweatshirt, socks and a blanket to try to stay warm as you check email on your phone. Anxiously awaiting your husband’s return home, hopefully providing you with some much needed hot coffee.
And then . . . you hear it. A click, then a buzz. A hum permeates the room. The sound of the refrigerator running. The DVR turning back on. Power restored.
Things back to normal. Everything working as it should. Like waking from a bad dream that begins to dissipate as soon as you awake. As if it never actually happened. Reality restored. The darkness and silence left behind.