It was well past sunset as we set out in PJ’s and multiple layers of clothing. Our car trunk loaded with perishables from the fridge and the freezer. As we navigated slick turns on a deserted road, the headlights caught in the icicles dangling off tree branches and twinkled eerily. It felt like Narnia except instead of wonderment, I felt fear and resentment. What started as a day of freezing rain soon bent trees out of shape, toppling them and snapping power lines. Even though we had prepared for the possibility of losing power, as the day passed, patience ran thin and the cold was making everything look depressing.
Parking behind the garage, we piled into the warmth of my brother’s home. The lights felt warm and the smells of cooking felt heavenly. Unloading and hauling stuff into the fridge, we settled down to a new normal. The kids sized each other up creating new dynamics. The excitement of being in a new place for the night carried them through the initial hours. Tossing and turning in their new sleeping bags, sleep eluded them and us. Waking up way too early, we felt sleep deprived. Getting them out the door, I felt a wave of relief course through me. I logged in to work after a day and handed over a bulk of my responsibilities over. Drawing a deep breath I let go of the tension that had been knotting in my shoulders and elbows. My feet were up and as the day passed, my nerves relaxed. The evening proved to be a delight. Cousins soaked each other in. Squeals of laughter alternated with screams. Kids twirled, danced, watched TV and ran around creating mayhem. I stood by the stove taking in everything. The dads pitched in peeling and cutting vegetables and minding the hyper kids.
It is not often we get to spend so much time together. Usually when we do meet it is with an end in sight. Dinner or parties. As the clock strikes, we pack and leave our days and nights planned ahead of time. With the power company providing no ETA, we just lived in the moment knowing we could all be stuck under one roof for days on end. Waking up each morning, the three girls competed to finish their warm milk or cocoa. They sat down for meals together and hugged each other bye as they separated for the duration of school.
I discovered the fun person my two-year old nephew was for the first time since he was born. Grinning to show all of his teeth, he and I played tickle and repeat what I say games. He tore around the living room with his big sisters and held his own. He danced away all evening to peppy numbers and scrunched his face when I played melodies.
Mid day today when I received word we had power back, I hooted with glee and made preparations to come home. As my nephew gave me a hug all of his own accord, I felt a lump in my throat. This chunk of time with my family was a gift. One I had missed and did not know. On the way home, I went over the three days and realized what a lovely time had been had. The privilege of having family nearby. To land unannounced and be taken care of. To have a vacation of sorts literally miles from my home.
Truly the best things in life are free. Only it takes an unscheduled power cut to make me realize it.