Wandering Through the Aftermath

Dearest Rachel –

The breeze is cool this morning as I step outside, or at least, it’s cool for the month of August. The sun, while exulting in its complete dominance of a cloudless sky, and intense enough that I need to maintain a near-permanent squint as I make my way east across shadeless sections of my route, isn’t so high in the sky as to be oppressive, as in weeks previous. In short, it’s the perfect day to walk to the ‘office’ from the house, especially given that I’ve woken up early enough to do so.

As I make my way along, observing the moisture of the morning dew on the grass, I also pass by plenty of puddles in a nearby parking lot. There aren’t as many branches littering lawns as there were last night, but there are certainly sections of sidewalk with scatterings of sticks and twigs to try to keep from tripping on. It’s not dangerous, by any means, but it does require caution – and in any event, it would certainly preclude one from sneaking up on another, if one wasn’t watching where one stepped.

It’s the sort of sight that would have had you collecting all the kindling you could carry; never mind the fact that we still have more at home even now than we’re likely to use for years to come.
Even the alfresco district has suffered damage, with debris on the ground and umbrellas (to say nothing of chairs) knocked askew.

This is all the result of fairly hard rain early yesterday afternoon. I never heard a bit of it, ensconced as I was in the basement, an entire floor below the beating upon the roof. I would’ve been completely unaware of it, had it not been for the fact that the power fizzled out several times in the course of ten minutes shortly after noon. Sure, I would’ve seen the aftermath on my way home – and in fact, I did – but at the time it was happening, nothing.

To be sure, the headphones I was wearing at the time may have had something to do with that as well.

Ironically, it’s the headphones that may have been what helped me find out about the storm sooner than I would have otherwise. Once the computer went out (and I guess I should be grateful it was a desktop rather than a laptop, otherwise I wouldn’t have even noticed then), I removed my headphones (because what was there to listen to, with the power out?) and heard the folks upstairs worrying about how to get Dad to his doctor’s appointment, since their car was essentially trapped inside the garage, which of course only opens electrically.

Really, it’s amazing how dependent we are on the electrical grid for literally everything, and how we’re basically stuck without it.

However, since I park my car on the driveway – out of the way of their car so they can otherwise back out safely – I’m not trapped the same way they are. So, I offer to drive Dad there, even though, by the time his appointment rolls around, the power has been restored for the third and final time for the day. Dad points out that, even though it’s not even raining at this juncture (that’s right, aside from its effects, I never actually saw it raining yesterday, let alone storming), there’s no guarantee that it won’t by the time his appointment is over, and in any case, parking is such that he’d just as soon not have to walk to his car. So I take him there, and drop him off at the door. It’s a bit crowded in the parking lot but I don’t pay much attention to it; it’s the sort of thing that you would (were you still around) tease me about shortly thereafter.

The trip home is unremarkable, save for the flashing lights of several emergency vehicles in the distance beyond the street the folks’ house is on. Since it’s not within my sphere of travel, I make a note of it, but otherwise pay it no mind. There are enough branches for me to avoid as I turn onto their street that whatever’s going on several blocks further west is of no concern to me. Really, there’s so much in life that we ignore as soon as we determine that it’s someone else’s problem; granted, while that suggests that we as humanity are cold and self-centered, to try to involve oneself in literally everything that needs to be done to fix everyone else’s problems would be both impossible and exhausting, and for the most part, I would just get in the way of the ones best suited to deal with it.

I don’t even pay attention to the kids leaving the local high school as I pass by it on my way back to the house and the ‘office,’ assuming that they are just heading to the local mall (and the fast food joints nearby) for a tastier lunch than can be provided by the school cafeteria (having never actually eaten there, despite spending my entire high school career there, I couldn’t say if that was a possibility). However, on my return trip – despite asking him to call me when he was finished, he called Mom, and she summoned me from my basement ‘office’ – I saw that many more students milling about, and the streetlight where the school parking lot empties onto the street is dead.

It’s not lunch hour anymore – the school is closed due to the extent of the blackout (even though our electricity had been restored over an hour ago – and, as it turns out, Daniel never noticed a thing on his side of town at all). Like I said, without power, it’s like we can’t do anything anymore.

Well, maybe not anything. As I pull into the clinic’s parking lot, a car does a Tokyo drift maneuver from behind a building, before peeling past me. The kid driving does pause a moment to grin at me, while I pull a ‘whaddya think yer doing?’ face at him. Had I more time, I’d probably have rolled down my window and asking him what he thought he was trying to compensate for; as it was, I realized I was acting like the old man I don’t really want to turn into. I want to believe that, if I was the kid in the passengers’ seat, I’d at least be impressed by the skill of pulling that move off without hitting anyone – if more than a bit nervous that he would. Between the move itself, that not-at-all sheepish grin he flashed at me, and the various thoughts that sped through my head at that moment, there’s probably an entire letter for you in that split-second encounter. But I think I’ll save it for later – assuming I think of it again at all.

Anyway, Dad was waiting just inside the building when I pulled up; evidently, he was one of the few appointments that could be performed without the power on, while most of the other folks walking in were essentially being turned away.

Quite the day, really. A lot of chaos and confusion, even as everyone was forced to admit how little actually could be done. And even now, folks are still picking up the pieces left behind from a few minutes of fierce rain.

I can’t tell if it’s the village public works division or the local electrical provider, but as you can see, there are still professional cleanup crews hard at work clearing the aftermath.

Keep an eye on us, honey, and wish us luck; we’re going to need it.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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