Two nights ago Aaron shared that his personal hell would include my reading “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” with complete seriousness for an indefinite amount of time. As though Nooks existed. As though the seven hump Wump was real and true and entirely domesticated. We figured out why he’s called “Dr.” Because when you’re reading “Say, look! A bird was in your ear. But he is out. So have no fear. Again your ear can hear, my dear,” you can’t help but sound ridiculously overeducated and self-important about nonsense.
My reading 63 pages about Ned and beds and Zans and cans was not, we realized, Aaron’s most hellish of personal hells. That would happen early the next morning, around 3:00 a.m., when the power went out and stayed out for over twenty-four hours. The winds were whining like a bunch of angry toddlers fighting over who could knock the next tree over and blowing at 70 mphs. First, the clock radio goes blank. Then the heater sighs into an indefinite hibernation. It gets cold fast.
Whenever it’s 3:00 a.m. and the power goes off, you know that if you go back to sleep, then it will be back on when you wake up. Except in Alaska. In Alaska people think it’s fun to play “Survivor” in their own homes. In Alaska, the electric associations must think we like being without power because it makes us feel courageous.
We woke up cold but it was the first, and we thought only, morning without coffee, showers, New York Times online, and eggs. One of anything is okay. I can watch one Matthew McConaughey movie. I can climb Skyline Trail one time. I can drink cold decaf instant coffee one morning.
So, we went to work. We bugged the neighbors to see if the power came back on. We knew again that if the power is off when you leave in the morning to go to work, then, if you go to work, it will be back on when you get home.
Except when you’re the star of “Survivor: The Underworld Edition.” We came home. It was forty degrees inside. We decided that one Glade candle at a time, we would make the most of it.
You can’t make the most out of anything without the Mega Heat (this is not a metaphor), so we found him in our storage unit and Aaron screwed him on to the propane unit we use for our grill.
Then, we decided that we needed a lantern to feel truly at ease in our own home again.
Here’s Aaron, doing his best not to get voted off the show:
While we were out buying the lantern, we also decided we couldn’t use Mega Heat to make hamburgers, so we picked up some Subway sandwiches and showered at the gym.
When we returned, Aaron assembled the lantern and in the war against the underworld, Hades got a point when we took out the directions for the lantern only to read: DO NOT ASSEMBLE INSIDE CAR, TENT, CAMPER, OR CABIN IN ALASKA IN CASE OF DEATH. YOU WILL DIE. Seriously, Coleman was that to the point. So, we sniffed carbon monoxide for just a few minutes before returning to the small flickering flames of Glade piney fresh. I could see my breath when I was reading books to Clara. Aaron saw steam come off the kettle when he filled it with water.
We bundled in bed and I turned on the open sign for the breastmilk buffet. Despite a really cold left cheek and nose, Clara slept well, bundled between Mom and Dad under five layers of blankets.
She awoke in the morning, no, not to electricity but to a homey bottle of water and a flashlight.
But hell is not hell without a few surprises around the corner. The first surprise was, not only was it 30 degrees in the cabin but there was also a layer of ice in the bathtub. The pipes had frozen. Then, Aaron tried and failed to start the truck.
But, all that would be alright. We can eventually pour scalding water down the tub drain. We can use the Pieh’s mechanic. All that would be manageable if it weren’t for the tapioca pudding.
Aaron says, “I had to throw out the tapioca pudding.”
I reply, “Okay. That’s fine.”
Aaron: “I had to find out the hard way.”
Without the luxury of running water to brush one’s teeth, Aaron’s fight against the dark side is complete. He is carrying with him the sour aftertaste of spoiled tapioca beads.
The power stayed out today, but maybe we were found faithful, because it came back on two minutes before we walked in the door, according to a clock radio blinking “12:02.” We ate hamburgers, we enjoyed a bedtime routine, we turned the heater up to 72, we took a pregnancy test. Which turned out to be neither positive nor negative, but like pregnancy test purgatory, it was simply invalid. So, another blog, another day. Stay tuned for the next possible installment titled “Plus Sign.”