It is nothing new for the power to go out. Living in the North/West end of the city, on what seems like the tip of civilization, results in these mishaps often. It is these unpredictable times that keep us on our toes. Will we notice, if the light of day shines through every open window? Or will we be plunged into darkness as we are now.
My brother is in the basement. A power outage would not be complete unless he is alone with the musty scent of forgottenness wafting into his panic-filled head. My Mom is watching television, disappointment over the delay downturning the features on her face. Not that anyone could see in the darkness. My Dad is outside in the pouring rain and lightning trying to fix the eaves troughs that he could never get just right. As for myself, I am half asleep with a book in my hand, letting the pelting rain on the ceiling lull me to sleep.
Upon the outage, every family member’s initial reaction is to meet. Congregate. To the upstairs living room. Murmurs of disappointment and confusion become background noise as we melt into the worn couch. One on top of the other, a tangle of limbs and laughter, we struggle to get as close to each other as possible. The plans of the night are forgotten. We would have ebbed and flowed into each others paths. Sitting down to watch a television show with each other, making warm popcorn to enjoy. We would have then separate again, going off and doing our own activities. Finding something to do that would distract us from the red warnings that flash across the television like a reminder that we are not as invincible as we had thought.
Darkness has a way of revealing insecurities and fears. The closeness of others helps keep these feelings at bay. Except, we would ever admit this. The dark is to be feared by small children, who have imaginations the size of elephants, and hearts made of pure gold. These notions seem frivolous for an adult, until the lights go out. Our imaginations run wild.
Candles placed meticulously around the room look puny next to the large lamps that would normally light the space. The empty bulbs look ominous in the faint glow of the flame. In this moment, I forget what it looks like for these lamps to have energy running through it’s cables, and for the light to chase away the darkness. Making do with what we can, we eventually settle into a semi-comfortable position. The rain outside picks up it’s pace. Somebody squirms. A hand is placed in front of a flashlight directed at the maroon coloured wall, making shapes on the wall. An outlet for our imagination. We laugh and use funny voices for each shape that vaguely resembles an animal.
This time of complete abandonment, where our fears are on display, gives me more warmth than the candles that light the room and the bodies around me. Warmth that runs along my skin, and into my heart until all I can feel is full. In the unforgiving darkness, when I cannot even see the very walls of this house, I feel at home.