Lights Out

The power went out in my town last night.

Even with the electricity flowing, this area gets wondrously dark at night. The town serves as a buffer between civilization and the mountainous boondocks of New Hampshire. My neighborhood rests literally on the border of this buffer. There are no street lights. You have to drive a few miles before you come across one.

But last night, we were reminded of how bright we are, even in the supposed small towns. The lights go out in my house, all my neighbors’ houses, as far as the eyes can see.

Pitch black.

As we get up from our spots in front of the TV — as we fumble for our phones and look for proper flashlights — my eyes eventually adjust. Outside, there’s a slick stream of light hitting the sides of wood panels and bouncing off the gravel pathway of our backyard. It’s so bright that I’m convinced someone is trudging through our backyard with a lamp.

At the risk of losing whatever remaining heat is still in the house, I throw on my jacket and step outside. Greeting me in the backyard is nothing more than the chill of November air, the muffled squawk of the chickens, and a bright, luminescent moon, blazing down on me as if to compete with its super moon predecessor.

Of in the distance, sirens echo. Some calamity has caused the town to go dark. A car accident. Maybe a fire. Multiple sirens let me know that this wasn’t a small incident. That it might be a while until power is restored.

But in that moment, there is stillness. There is a peace and a solace and a sense of wonderment. The stars are aggressively bright and the clouds are illuminated. The sky opposite the moon is the faintest shade of blue, giving its best impersonation of daylight. With my eyes increasingly adapting to the dark, the moon’s rays spill onto the driveway like a floodlight.

In this moment, there is beauty.

The electricity doesn’t come back, even as we settle for bed. We wrap our guinea pig’s cage in blankets and bring her upstairs with us. The tiny animal is sensitive to temperature and keeping her warm is the biggest priority. Phones are placed by the nightstand, replacing our traditional alarm clocks. A single flashlight is propped to face the ceiling and it gives the room a homey, cozy glow.

The world is so quiet that I can hear the planes taking off and landing in the nearby airport. I can hear the guinea pig digging through her bedding. I lay in bed, my legs burning from being outside in a flimsy set of leggings. The next day will be one of my busiest, but for now I round out my day with a book. Eventually one of the cats joins us in bed, kneading at the throw blanket I have on my side, his purrs loud and pure and joyful. The other circles the insulated guinea pig cage, wondering what to make of this new addition to the room.

In this moment, there is quiet. There is stillness. There is beauty and wonderment and solace and peace. And all it took was a calamity to create it.

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