Friday, September 9, 2011

Brown Out California

The power outed at 3:27pm on Thursday, the same day that had already been so hot we couldn't take the preschoolers outside for their afternoon play. I was cleaning in the infant room, Ever and other babies crawling around my feet, and Dakota had just left angrily. Things aren't good. If you pray, you can pray for my son. He came back in, his phone cracked and hot in his large 17 year old hand. I broke my phone Mom, he said. So you can't call me. I nodded, that's all. He left and the power shut off. Fans stopped the incessant whirring over our heads, the EXIT light came on and a loud, fat beeping noise began it's endless repetition. Once every three minutes.

Outside, I plugged Ever into the carseat and her forehead glistened already with drops of sweat.

I drove by Dakota, walking home, shirt off. He's so tall. He's 6 foot now.

At home I pulled Ever out and told Mr. Curry about the day. The power might stay out until tomorrow afternoon, he said. Are you sure? That's what they said? He was sure. That's what they said. Dakota came home. Things happened. Mr. Curry and I did the best we could. We did a good job, a much better job than we knew how to do two years ago. Dakota left. I called out I love you to his receding and unresponsive back. Because sometimes there is nothing else that you can say, and you want to be sure that you said it. Lola was in tears. I sat with her on the couch as she sobbed. It's OK, sweetie, we both told her, it's OK.

In the middle of the street, I took our neighbors cell, trying to call my Mom. The signal didn't go through. Lola stood next to me, Ever in Mr. Curry's arms. The air was yellow and thick. From our position in the cul de sac, looking down the street, you could see neighbors sitting in lawn chairs on their front yards, standing in the street talking, kids running around. Looking at the vaguely threatening sky, my eyes scanned for something. I realized I was feeling the absence of electricity. The absence of internet signals, cell phones, computers, televisions blaring, phones ringing, movies playing. I could hear my neighbors voices. Kids playing. I could hear the wind in the palm trees. And I could feel the resting of Nature into my body, without the strange skin of electrical noise between us and the elements.

The grocery store was crowded with people. The parking lot like a fish packed river, gleaming car tops. The water aisle half cleared completely, the other half picked through. Each register open, the lines of irritable, hot, worried people poking back into the food aisles. Mr. Curry was looking for a small alarm, worried how he would wake for work. We bought hot dogs, beans and water. Ever wore only her diaper and a tired, bleary interest in what was going on. I stayed quiet.

Mr. Curry made dinner on the grill and the darkness set completely. We lit candles and had our camping lantern on, plenty of light. We ate dinner out front. The moon was full, the stars beautiful, and a completely wonderful cool breeze had begun steadily blowing. I cried, until Mr. Curry reminded me my responsibility was to the girls. I stopped crying. I wondered where he was. I thought of how glad I was we lived in suburbia; no where for him to go to dangerous. Just 'little pink houses /for you and me'.

We all lay together in the bedroom. Mr. Curry had a battery powered radio working, and we four lay listening to it with a candle lit until we fell asleep.

The power went back on at 4am. I woke to the fan whirring and the the television that had never been turned off blaring in the living room. I turned it all off and lay back in bed. I tried not to think about my life. I thought of the women before me, the mothers, the centuries of women protecting their families in the face of disease, death, starvation, poverty, loss. Potato famines, crop failure, floods. All the mothers for hundreds and thousands of years. I thought of them, and I fell asleep.
clearness said...

This reminds me of when some terrible storms blew through the neighborhood when Isabella was only a baby, and it was summer.....gosh it was so stinking hot. It was out for about four or five days.

THEN, that following winter, a terrible ice storm took down trees which took down power lines which caused us to be without power for about five whole days! It was awful!

Shelley E said...

I love the way you write, I can put myself in your story like I am watching. I am so sorry you are having problems with Dakota- I hope that whatever is happening heals...

Smorg said...

Those SDG&E workers sure worked up some miracle last night, ay? I was also very thankful that the outage came as the heatwave was on its way out. I mean, had it hit the night before... {shudder}!

We got electricity back around 12:40AM here in Chula Vista. It turned out to be a good night with neighbors lounging around in beach chairs on the common drive way. The only thing missing were a campfire and smores!

Don't worry too much about Dakota. We're all a bit unmanageable right around that age, I think. He'll come round in a bit. :o)

CitricSugar said...

Beautifully written.

Catherine said...

The transition to young adulthood is painful for all. Like labor pains, inevitable when you have a child.

Melanie said...

Seriously. Nothing is harder in parenting than parenting an adult (or almost-adult) child. Nothing. Sleepless nights with hungry babies are nothing compared to the heart wrenching sleepless nights of worry with the big kids.

My heart goes out to you. My prayers are flying to both you and Dakota.

This, too, shall pass....promise!

Petit fleur said...

I'm sorry Dakota is struggling so much. He sounds like such a cool and smart man child.

It is a different kind of world our children have to navigate than we had. I mean much of the core stuff is still the same, but the fast pace and availability of so many things we did not have available to us... not all of it good.

I think at some point we just have to keep breathing deeply and loving fiercely, knowing that they have been taught well and loved well and they will come through whatever challenges them in part, because of that. I know it doesn't take away the worry, but maybe there is a balance somewhere.

Hang in Maggie.
xo

Julia said...

Prayers for you and for Dakota, ongoing.

Misfits Vintage said...

You are such a wonderful writer. I especially love your surprising adjectives: 'yellow air, fat beeping sounds' that work so beautifully. Thank you.

I'm sorry for whatever is going on with Dakota. I wish you all peace.

Sarah xxx

susan said...

I am the praying kind and would be honored to pray for your Dakota. Having raised three boys through "those years", I totally feel your pain. It's rough, but we all must keep moving through it all. As easy as it would be to simply throw in the towel, we know that isn't an option. It takes a long time to come out the other side.

maura said...

Oh Maggie. My heart aches for you. I will pray for Dakota. We, too, are struggling with our son. I hope I will get to see you in November.

Cid said...

Petit Fleur said it best, "breathe deeply and love fiercely" that is my new parenting mantra. I only hope you have a peaceful weekend.

Elizabeth said...

I'll just second Petit Fleur.

You're a beautiful woman, a beautiful mother and Dakota knows that in his cells. That matters. He is also on his own journey and much as we might want to, I imagine that there are limits to how much we can impact that journey.

Love and blessings and prayers to all of you.

Ms. Moon said...

Yes, like post-hurricane times when we all remember how to live without power for sometimes a week or more.
You know, Maggie, sometimes I do the same thing with seeing the women- the rivers and lines of women, holding their hands out to the ones coming after them, all of us linked, we mothers, we wives, we tenders and lovers and beings with all of it in our hearts and strong backs and how sometimes all we can do is take the touch of one woman's hand and remember it goes back forever.
Here is my hand.

Evangeline said...

Beautifully written as always, Maggie. I do pray, and I will pray for Dakota. So hard to be a young man in this world, so hard.

Marion said...

I'll be praying for you and your precious family, Maggie. The teen years are so hard, so hard...

I was listening to NPR last night and they were interviewing a man on the phone about the power outage. He said he and his wife were sitting outside looking at the stars. Said he'd live there his whole life and had never seen the stars....It was a touching, enlightening interview.

I'm glad you got your electricity back. Sending you love, hugs and blessings. xo

Maggie May said...

I've read your words of support three or four times, thank you all. He spent the night with his Gma. So that was good. I'm utilizing everything I know how to do. It's so fucking scary, still. Thanks for holding it up for me. xoxoxo

Jason, as himself said...

"Looking at the vaguely threatening sky, my eyes scanned for something. I realized I was feeling the absence of electricity. The absence of internet signals, cell phones, computers, televisions blaring, phones ringing, movies playing. I could hear my neighbors voices. Kids playing. I could hear the wind in the palm trees. And I could feel the resting of Nature into my body, without the strange skin of electrical noise between us and the elements."

What have we become???

Hyacinth said...

I will send up a prayer and a wish for you and your sweet Dakota...your love for him shines through so brightly, I'm sure he knows it and feels it and sees it...my sister and my mom have gone through hell and back together, but even in the darkest days, my sister has always known that the one steady light in her life is the love that my mom has for her.

Sending happy thoughts of peace, love, and happiness to you & yours.

All This Trouble... said...

I haven't seen my son in 2 years. He has agreed to a week long visit at Thanksgiving. We will all do the best we can but a little part of me is terrified. My ten year old decided to live with his Father. My twelve yr old decided he was very angry with his me and refused further visits. And now I look forward to a fourteen yr old who is now over six feet tall and 200 lbs.

This helps.

Lone Star Ma said...

Love and prayers.

mosey (kim) said...

Prayers? I hardly know how anymore, but I've been called on so many times lately to do it, and I'm trying. Love to you and your family. You are a strong mama.

krista said...

i thought about you with the power outage...especially since i grew up in south orange county.
i wonder sometimes if it is true that we aren't really ever able to parent teenagers without some damage somewhere. i think about when i was a teenager and good lord. it terrifies me.
*this post reads like a short story. so beautiful.*

Drax said...

Really good stuff. Very powerful. Glad you jumped in to update re Dakota. Hang in there, wise one.

Annie said...

Dear Maggie,
I hope things are a bit better now for you and Dakota. Your writing is beautiful, and the expression of your thoughts. Your love, as always, shines through any conflict or pain. I'm sure Dakota knows that much, if nothing else.

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