You know you’ve been on an island a long time when the power goes off and you don’t flinch, you don’t sigh, you don’t curse, you don’t scream. You calmly move into Plan B. Acceptance has wafted over me at this point. I get no joy from shouting and waving my fists at the heavens above. However, I was not always this way.
When the power outages first began seven or so summers ago, I found myself spewing profanities at the absurdity. HOW ON EARTH CAN THERE BE NO POWER? That is what I used to shout.
Being a New England girl most of my life, power outages were rare. It really had to be a deep winter “ice-storm” to lose power where I come from. Nowadays my lovely half-moon shaped ice cubes have melted and frozen and melted and frozen so often that they have formed one solid block in my freezer! (On a Positive Note – that’s handy for keeping food from spoiling).
It’s hard not to ask yourself how a place with 340 days of sunshine could not have moved to solar power by now. How about wind? We have that too. I know, I know – you need land. Well – we have land as well. It’s just on one of the many family islands. I guess some can survive without an air-conditioner and many do, but I can’t really imagine how. From November to March, the gulf stream provides a lovely breeze. But when spring arrives, the sun is blaringly powerful by 8AM and the four walls of your home become a sauna quickly. (On a Positive Note – I’m told sweating out toxins will keep me healthy).
From my third-floor apartment, when generators surrounding my building begin their deafening hum and the smell of diesel and roar of engines is distracting me beyond sleep, I take a cool shower, grab my brightest lanterns and a good book, lying very still hoping to fall asleep. (On a Positive Note . . . I’ve read FIVE books this summer.)
How long can I keep my sanity? How many more summers will I listen to the excuses and predictions and promises? Clearly the citizens here have been putting up with this for decades. Have I become accepting just as they are? I fear so . . . except when that dinner cooking in the oven is interrupted, the clothes in the washer float “half-washed” and worst of all –the monthly bill arrives from the power company and it’s still over $400 despite daily “load-shedding”!! (On a Positive Note, I’m spending less on groceries and using the stairs instead of the elevator)
When the power is gone, it’s gone. All you can do is keep that phone charger ready, have some canned food, water, a flashlight and a good book. Somehow that seems okay when a storm is afoot. However, on a national level the key lies in making power distribution networks more functional for everyday life. It requires a holistic approach and government can contribute to preventing power outages by planning and budgeting for one of the most essential things in life. In the meantime, the line-up to the local ice-cream store is long late into the night and they must be thriving. (On a Positive note I hate long lines, so I’ve avoided the icy treat and saved a few calories.)
If there is one true positive to name during these dark days and nights, it is the way the neighbors work together to help one another during the inconvenience of it all. In times of need, people bond, especially on an island, in community and in a true sense of belonging. Why just yesterday I received my fourth FREE COFFEE from the local coffee shop where I spend countless hours commiserating with others while soaking up their a/c and Wi-Fi during power outages. That’s a Positive Note!