What I found the night the lights went out

20130626_230337.jpg

The boys were playing at a neighbor's house. Cate was taking a late afternoon nap. I looked outside and noticed the sky growing dark. I texted the neighbor to send Dillon and Blake home. Then it started pouring. 

"Never mind." I texted again. "I'll get them when it passes."

Then Shawn texted. "On my way home. Rain on 526." 526 is always backed up. Adding rain makes it worse.

Then, the neighbor texted this:

2013-06-26_18.30.32.jpg

Blake had fallen asleep--mid play--on her floor. 

 I sat on the couch, opened my laptop, as lightning popped and thunder cracked. Hail slapped the roof and the windows, and it sounded like someone was twisting sheets of bubble wrap.  Very loud bubble wrap.  

Then, the power went out. I lost my internet connection, so I grabbed my phone and turned on the app that creates a wifi hotspot, unfazed. Moments alone are so few and far between, I was not going to be deterred by an afternoon thunderstorm. 

Then, my mom called.  

"Are you okay?" she asked.  

"Yes, why?"  

"I think you're in a tornado warning."  

I got up, opened the front door and stood in the doorway, looking at the sky. The street was starting to flood. Mom turned the television up so I could hear the meteorologists through the phone. There were two, tag-teaming and watching the radar. They said a possible funnel cloud had been spotted near a neighborhood just a couple of miles from mine. I might have said a few curse words. I was seconds away from running upstairs, pulling Cate out of the crib, running back downstairs and hiding in the coat closet. Or the powder room? Where should I go?  My boys were down the street. My husband was on the interstate. 

I heard my stepdad in the background. "It's moving south," he said.  

Exhale. The storm was moving away from us.  

Minutes later, the rain subsided. Shawn pulled into the driveway. I heard the boys running around, and then they burst inside. "Blake! You're awake!" I cheered. They were starving, and I opened the freezer to grab the chicken nuggets, forgetting the power was out. 

"It's okay," Shawn said, "I'll fire up the grill." 

We went outside, and Shawn cooked salmon and dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets. He Instagrammed his work. 

Screen Shot 2013-07-01 at 9.42.39 PM.png

We had dinner outside, and then another neighbor walked over and said everyone was at another neighbors' house at the end of the cul-de-sac. Cate was now awake, and I was glad she was rested because we were apparently missing a party. 

We decided to walk down. I wasn't wearing shoes. I decided it didn't matter.  

And there, we gathered on the porch until long after dark, getting bitten by mosquitoes, talking, passing the time and waiting for street lights that never came on.  

We finally left sometime after 10:30, and when we got home, we lit candles and sat them on the mantle. I put Cate to bed, and when I got back downstairs, Shawn, Blake and Dillon had already fallen asleep on the couches. I left them there and crawled into bed. 

I woke up at 2:30 am. Every light in the house was on, apparently from flipping switches because we kept forgetting the power was out. The air conditioner started--a comforting hum--and I had to force myself to get out of bed and turn off the lights.  

The next day, I texted the neighbor who had hosted the impromptu candlelight gathering. "Thanks for the hospitality last night. I'm glad we crashed your porch!" 

"That was pure pleasure!" she replied. "We enjoyed it and I think it lets us know that we can rely and depend on each other." 

I smiled to myself, because she had given me the perfect ending to the story I'm telling. So I wrote back, "Indeed! You know I'm going to blog about that, right?" 

One of the best summer nights so far.