Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hoboken Blackout: 2008

October 26, 2008

I was thinking about a lot of things last night when the lights went out. My new apartment is totally electric, and I had some pasta and sauce on the stove. I had just gotten home from the British production of Chekhov's The Seagull on Broadway, and was processing the experience while I prepared for a quiet evening at home. I had answered my email and was mulling over what I would write about the play on the blog.

Then everything went dark. As in the coming of a hurricane in Lower Alabama, I was plunged into darkness. It was only 6:15, so there was a little ambient light in the apartment. There was even a flicker of electricity about five minutes later, and it looked as if this might be over soon. I searched for my flashlight and some matches, but found neither as the lights went out again, this time for hours. I realized there was no reason to try to make a meal so I grabbed a cooling sausage out of the sauce, scarfed it and put my feet up, trying to use meditation techniques to deal with the impending dark as the light eked out of the room. Out my window I could see the trees in the courtyard bending as they were whipped this way and that with the wind and lashed with rain.

It was too dark to read my watch. I didn't know how long it had been, but I rightly guessed about an hour when I decided to go to the street, where surely the bars of Willow Avenue would be filled with people discussing the blackout by candlelight and with beer.

At the beautiful restaurant-bar on the corner of 10th and Willow, a man was taking down the outside umbrellas. Inside, a few couples seemed to be deep in conversation. The umbrella man told me there was a power line down at Hudson and 11th Street and that only sections of the city were without power. I didn't see any huddled masses to join, and that bar scene seemed to be too self-contained for me to crack, so I walked south toward Rogo's. Three guys stood at the door, and I went in and stayed with them and a good pinot grigio until all the lights they had on batteries gave out, leaving the group with votive candles on the bar and a couple of pizzas delivered from Torno's. They called the power company and we were told we'd have service by 11:17. I asked if anyone had matches, and they didn't, so I went out into the rain and into CVS which was as bright and noisy as if there were no storm.

CVS doesn't carry matches. I came home and went to bed, still no idea what time it was, but guessed it was about eight. I figured that if I could fall asleep, lights coming on at 11:17 would wake me up and I could take care of the kitchen at that time.

All of a sudden the lights came on. I grabbed my watch and it said 9:00. I set all the clocks, ate the pasta, cleaned the kitchen, watched a little tv, and was back in bed in an hour.

This morning all the lights are working. Now I can think about that production of The Seagull before I go on the tour of Hoboken houses.


Nan said...

It is so discombobulating (I love that word) when the power goes off. I'm really not a candlelight, old-days kinda girl. I like my electricity- the purring of the fridge and the humidifier (fan in summer). You may recall we lost power for four days. I bore it but not well. Thank goodness I have audio books. They save me.

Mary Lois said...

I was discombobulated, all right, even though the blackout only lasted a matter of hours, not days. Today I found my flashlight! And I'll get some matches tomorrow.

Hope the lights don't go out again though.

Steve said...

You shoulda brought one or two of those hurricane lamps up from Alabama with you!

Mary Lois said...

I couldn't even find my flashlight! But now I have it, although the batteries are weak. At least I ought to buy some matches...