Yesterday it was 96 degrees in West Hollywood. Everyone in the city was hiding away in their air conditioned homes, waiting for more reasonable temperatures. So of course, the power went out on my block at 4:30pm.
At first, I thought, well, maybe I can tough this out. Then all the aging Russians sought comfort by the pool, right outside my door. Ugh. Worse, I overheard from the building manager that it would take the city 5-7 hours to get power up and running again. Fuck that, I called
I hung out with her and her air conditioner until 11pm, watching NASCAR (not so torturous as expected, due largely to bitterchick’s frequent trivia interjections) and L&O:CI, then decided it was time to try home again. I stopped at 7-eleven for ice, just in case, but apparently so did everyone else, since 7-eleven was out of all forms of water, both liquid and frozen. Bad sign.
My building was pitch black, which seems like such an innocuous term until you’re in an underground parking garage with no lights and can’t see your hand in front of your face, never mind anything or anyone in the farthest corners of the garage; and then you have to walk through a tunnel, also with no lights, not even at the far end. The gate to the garage was wide open–no electricity–so of course all I could think of was the perfect opportunity that lay ahead of me for every mugger, rapist and murderer, especially since the garage was completely empty of cars–all my neighbors had fled the building for cooler locations (hotels? friends’ homes? 7-elevens? Who knew?) I made it through, of course, but not without constantly “locking” my car with the remote, just to activate the flash of the parking lights, which was way better than no light at all.
I reached the end of the tunnel and headed up the stairs. The lack of light and sound (no air conditioners) was eerie. When I got to the top and saw the completely dark pool and courtyard, I realized I really should’ve gotten my house keys out before leaving the car. I couldn’t even see my door knob to put the key in.
The cats were happy to see me, and I was happy they hadn’t succumbed to the sauna I’d left them in. I’d left my camping lantern by the door, which offered some comfort. I took a quick shower to cool down, hoping it would be enough to allow me to sleep in the heat and the quiet, but no. I’m not accustomed to that much quiet–no radio, no fan, no hum of ACs from outside–nothing but crickets.
I felt claustrophic in the heat and quiet, and finally gave up trying to sleep. I was thirsty, but I didn’t dare open the fridge, for fear of releasing what little cold air was left and spoiling the few spoilable things inside. I posted something pathetic to Twitter from my phone–my only contact with the outside world, and one-way contact at that. I lit every candle I could find, placing them on the dining room table, and spent the first hours of Sunday playing solitaire by candlelight. Around 1:30, I started hearing shouts and machinery–generators. They were working on the power problem someone within a block of my window. Of course, I wondered where the fuck they’d been for the previous nine hours, but more than that, the noise was comforting–I wasn’t the only person left on the block (you think some crazy shit when it’s dark and quiet and you’re alone), and someone was trying to fix the problem. Soon, I’d have my fans and AC back, my lights and radio and TV and connection to the world.
At 3:30, they were still shouting and working, but I was tired of solitaire, so I laid on the couch to try to sleep. Around 4:15, the shouts stopped–but still no power. At five, I got up to blow the candles out.
I woke at 8am, still power-less. The urge to sob was strong. I’d never survive another 90+ day with no power, and I feared the inside of the fridge. The power had been out for 15 1/2 hours. I hopped in the shower to cool down–and boy was it a cool-down, since the water heaters weren’t working. The upside of the heat was that it felt good instead of torturous.
And when I came out of the shower, I heard it–my bedroom fan was on. I ran into the bedroom and saw my alarm clock blinking 12:03–three minutes since the power had returned. Hallelujah!
I haven’t turned the AC on yet, but the fan’s pointed right at me. Mostly I’m happy to have the internets back.
It’s 86 degrees right now, before 9am. I think I’ll try to get what sleep I can, in case this happens again.
I’m so not prepared for a catastrophic earthquake.