Power Outage

Written By: Erin Swanson


The power went off at exactly nine a.m. Twelve hours after I had walked around my house in a circle, in the rain, wearing pink Liberty of London floral print rain boots. Twice. I circled twice. Reading from The Guide To Green Hope Farm Flower Essences. Aloud. Asking the angels and elementals of the land to remove all negativity from my house. It didn’t seem that nuts at the time. I thought I was protecting the house from having a tree fall on it. My sister had recommended that I do it in advance of the impending hurricane. She said severe weather searches for negative places to land.

Initially, it wasn’t so bad. We had prepared ourselves fairly well for the storm. And for the possibility of a loss of power. We had batteries. Flashlights. Lots of water. I knew how to flush a toilet with a bucket of water. Honestly, the first few times it was entertaining. It was like a science experiment. I even brought John and the kids into the bathroom to show them. It was amazing. We were all amazed. For a day. I just wasn’t expecting to have to do it so many times. Seriously, not having power made us all have to go to the bathroom more. It was exhausting. Filling the bucket up in the pool and dragging it back to the house. Because the whole filling the bathtub with water was a complete waste. Nobody told me you had to tape the drain first.

That night I thought it would be fun to go out to dinner. I was getting tired of being trapped in the house. We went to The Palm. It was sort of nice to be somewhere with power but it was about the only place in town with power so it was packed. The maître ‘d said it would probably be an hour to get a table. They have this nice living room area with couches and wingback chairs so we sat there and talked to other people waiting. People were charging their cell phones. One family had come just so their kids could watch the MTV music video awards on the television. Bobby Flay was there.

We came home to a pitch-black house. I lit candles. We armed ourselves with flashlights and I got the kids to bed without too much trouble. I washed my face with a baby wipe and fell asleep reading Atlas Shrugged on my iPad.


We woke up with no power and I had a zit on my chin.

I tried to heat Lily-Rose’s bottle. I had to light the pilot on the stovetop with a wooden skewer that I had lit with a lighter and it took so long that I burned my thumb on the hot metal part of the lighter.

I realized that we needed to go out for breakfast. We went to John Papas. They’re nice to us. And the old woman at the counter likes John for some reason. I got the pancakes. And the bacon.

I overheard some people at another table say that we weren’t getting power back until Friday. I hadn’t had a shower since Saturday. So I took it upon myself to call the guy we call when major stuff goes wrong and I asked him to find me a generator. Any generator. I couldn’t live without water. Or refrigeration. I’d just thrown away about a thousand dollars in frozen, organic, gluten free chicken nuggets.


After breakfast at John Papas, the generator arrived. We had hot water, refrigeration, and one lamp. And the dishwasher–which I’m pretty sure the electrician forgot to shut down. I ran a load on the fast cycle.

The generator was extraordinarily loud. Like having a swarm of lawn mowers sitting outside the kitchen window.

“It’s so loud,” John said. “We should have just gone to a hotel. I can’t stand this. The gasoline fumes are giving me a headache. Can we turn on the air conditioner?”

I just looked at him.

“Why can’t we turn on the air conditioner?” he asked. “Why didn’t you get a better one? We need a whole house generator. This is awful. It’s just as bad as not having a generator.”

We went to dinner at Sam’s. Lily-Rose bothered the family at the booth behind us and the mother said, “We’re trying to have dinner here.” She made a big production when she left about telling her kids how wonderfully behaved they were.


We woke up and the house really did reek of gasoline. I called the electrician. He said he’d come check it out. John was having a meltdown.

The babysitter arrived. She was finally back after several days off. She came with us to John Papas. Lily-Rose wouldn’t sit down. She banged her shoes against the wooden bench. She threw packets of Equal on the floor. I was coloring the mermaid picture the waitress brought to the table with the ten broken crayons, which were all red. I asked the babysitter to take Lily-Rose to the park. She packed up her Belgian waffle and the fruit cup and they left. I announced that I needed to go next door to White’s Pharmacy. I had to buy toner or something to help me get rid of the giant pimple on my chin. Nick came with me. He sat in the make up chair at the counter. It was weighted in a really weird way so it kept tipping forward a little. He ended up crashing into the make up counter. He was fine but it made a really loud noise. I told the woman, as I was charging the La Mer toning lotion, that the chair was kind of dangerous. And she said, “Well, it’s for make overs.” And I said, “Well, I still don’t think it should tip forward like that.”

When we got home the electrician was there and he said everything with the generator was fine. He said that maybe a gust of wind or something blew the gasoline smell into the house.

John’s still mad.

“Did you call Lilco?”

“It’s Lipa,” I tell him. “I’ve reported the outage everyday online.”

“Maybe you should try to get in touch with an actual human being.”

I tell him this is impossible.

“Tell them we have small children.”

I tell him I don’t think they’d care.

He yelled some more about the generator. The loss of power. Lipa. Lilco.

And then my best friend called and told me that I did this. I asked the angels and elementals of the land to take away all negativity and that’s exactly what happened. We lost all of it.

I felt like an idiot.

I took the kids and the babysitter to the beach. Nick caught hermit crabs with some other kids and Lily-Rose sat at the waters edge with her horses and dolls and played in the water. It was a gorgeous day with the sun sparkling on the bay. For the first time in days, even though we’d had no television, no video games, no stereo, nothing, it finally felt quiet. I felt peaceful.

On our way home I stopped at Round Swamp Farm. Lily-Rose and the babysitter looked at the chickens and bunnies while I shopped. I got some real food. A chicken, some salad, some muffins. A key lime pie. And that night we sat in the living room, near our one lamp and ate a quiet dinner together. And then we went to bed. I fell asleep reading Atlas Shrugged on my iPad.


We had breakfast at John Papas again. John said the whole experience was like being on a bad vacation.

I had gained 6 pounds. I’d eaten every variety of French toast they have. Plain, challah, Italian, cinnamon.

In the afternoon, I took the kids to the beach again. A friend of mine met us there with her baby. He and Lily-Rose played. Nick went off to search for hermit crabs. We spent the whole day there and then we all went to Hampton Chutney. We ate and then the kids ran around in the square. They were laughing. Playing tag. Barefoot in the grass. And then this guy started talking to me and he said, “Your kids are amazing. You’re changing the world.”

“Am I? I mean I’m trying,” I said.

“Trying and succeeding,” he said before he walked away.

We got home and we sat together for a while before bed in the living room. John ate leftover chicken from the night before and Nick read Charlotte’s Web and I read Atlas Shrugged. I hated that book.


After breakfast we drove home and the guy who had been filling the gas tank for us was standing in our driveway smiling.

“The power is back,” he yelled.

John and the kids cheered.

I said thank God.