A Sort of Homecoming

U2 – A Sort of Homecoming

Back in the early-mid 80s, I was not much of a U2 fan. I didn’t have to be to still know all their songs. I always had a friend who was a devoted follower so you’d hear them no matter what. I admit at the time, I didn’t really pay a lot of attention. I bought The Unforgettable Fire at some bargain bin sale a few years ago. When I put it on I was instantly transported back to cold bus rides home from high school football games (I was in the band).

Those dark, frigid days have been on my mind lately as we had a blizzard last weekend that dropped about 20″ of snow and knocked our power out. That wasn’t really a surprise, it happens every time a hurricane comes around. The difference is hurricanes usually occur in warmer months and lose their steam as they head north so the last couple of times, I’ve taken the kids up to my mother’s in Maine to ride it out. We’d lose power at home and my husband would stick around in the area to assess any damage and let us know when it was safe to come back. It’s been nice to have that refuge though I’ve felt a little guilty about just escaping the worst of it and waltzing back in when everything is comfortable again. I’m not going to feel bad about that any more.

Heading north wasn’t going to help us escape a blizzard (and sure enough my mother got buried, snow up to the door handle) so we stayed put. I had left the heat up a little higher than usual, made the kids take their showers early, found the flashlights and was just finished making dinner when the lights first began to flicker. We managed to finish eating but didn’t get the dishes done before the power went out. I played a board game with the kids, we read some books, then went to bed early. My seven-year-old was scared so I let him sleep in with me and my husband took the futon. I’m not used to going to bed that early so I was awake for a while in the middle of the night using a little of my precious battery power on my phone to see how others were making out.

It was 52 degrees inside the house when we woke up. Bearable but chilly. We made a tent in the playroom and lined it with blankets and pillows to try and trap some heat in. I went out in search of coffee and to see if anyone in the neighborhood had power.

See those wires? Coated with inch thick ice and hanging ridiculously low. I knew we’d be in for another cold night as I didn’t see any plows or power company equipment anywhere. The kids were being good sports about it all, even when their iPod and Nintendo DS ran out of power. We played some more board games (note to self, buy new games you can stand to play more than once), ate cold pasta, cereal, whatever anyone found palatable at the new room temperature was fine with me.

With the sun down it got cold, fast. Both kids piled into the bed with me and we took turns reading aloud by flashlight, gloves and hats on to keep the parts out of the covers from getting too cold. It reminded me of the first year we moved up to Maine. Our house in NY hadn’t sold so we were living in rented houses, the first one an unheated summer cabin which we stayed in until Thanksgiving. My sister and I shared a room, wearing two layers of pajamas and socks, mittens and hats to bed. My mother and younger sister shared a single bed, with the cat on top, just to keep warm. We survived that, have some really great inside jokes and stories we can tell, this is going to be fine, I told myself.

Because of the cold or the early bedtime, I woke up again in the middle of the night. I thought back to those days in the unheated house. As a teenager, it was something to be gotten through, put up with, grumble about. I’m sure I never gave any thought to what my mother was going through, teenagers aren’t known for their great empathy with their parents after all. Now I am the mother and I was responsible for making sure we did all survive it fine with nothing more than a good story to tell. Things sure look different from this side of the fence. The temperature in the morning was down to 42F. We were in the midst of getting ready to pack up and head to a friend’s house when the power company called with an anticipated restoration of power for 2pm. Phew! And thanks, Mom, for the grace I never even knew you were showing under all that pressure.