It’s a little after 8:30 on an October evening and the rain is lightly falling outside. The drops are tapping the skylight in my living room. I’m eating a Larabar for dinner because it’s all I had in the house that didn’t need to be cooked. I got home from yoga a little while ago. I washed my face and fed the cat. I was just starting to make my dinner when everything went black. I felt around the countertop for my phone, knowing it had a flashlight. My cat kept eating.
I was planning on eating real dinner tonight. It’s cold and I can feel my body wanting the comfort of a warm meal. But it’s not going to happen—the whole neighborhood is dark and shows no signs of life. I’m hungry and I’ve learned that my pantry is ill-equipped should there ever be an apocalyptic situation.
I have three different candles lit. They are the only three I have left. Since I returned from a week-long solo journey through California a month ago, I’ve been wandering through my house and randomly getting rid of things that no longer fit. A lot of things no longer fit.
Two of the three candles were on their way out the door. They are laden with chemicals that aggravate my allergies. I was planning to keep one because I like the holder. It’s simple, white and has a bare tree painted on one side.
One of the other two candles won’t stay lit. The third one is a large Yankee Candle in Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s been my favorite scent for as long as I can remember. The first time I smelled it it reminded me of the way a man smells. Not the sweaty, smelly, bad kind of man, but the clean, masculine, wrap-your-arms-around-me kind of man.
I’ve always found the smell comforting, especially on nights like tonight, when the dark permeates everything and there is no escape. A guy I dated a million years ago gave the candle to me. I don’t know why I kept it for all these years. The smell is overpowering and gives me a headache now.
I take the last bite of my Larabar and I wonder what to do next. Reading is difficult without decent light. The TV won’t work. I thought about taking a bath but know I’ll run out of hot water before the tub is full. I texted a few friends but then decided to conserve my phone battery.
Before I started making dinner I spied the stack of books sitting on my coffee table and thought about a conversation I had over the weekend about how much of my free time writing is taking up. Over the past few months it’s been my biggest priority.
I love it.
But like all things we love, I want more. I want more time to create and more time to read and fill back up, so I can create some more. But I have a 9-5 job, and a commute that takes an hour and half out of my day. I have a yoga practice and freelance work, and so many other tiny things competing for my attention.
So like with my house, I’ve been looking for ways clean out my life so I can do more of the things that really matter to me, like writing.
I’ve been thinking about getting rid of TV lately. I barely watch it, but still like to wind down for a bit most nights. I like to watch The Daily Show, or some mindless sitcom. I like a good movie on a Saturday night. It’s not productive time, but it allows my mind to take a break from thinking so much.
But it’s been nagging at me lately. I know it’s time I could use to write out one of the many ideas I have for blog posts. Or to work my way through that stack of books on my coffee table.
I had this thought tonight too, about three minutes before the power went out. I thought, “I can watch Parenthood at 9:00, or I can work on the blog post I’ve been wanting to work on.” I knew though, before I even finished the thought, that Parenthood had already won.
Now, I’m sitting here in the dark, and in the quiet that comes when the noise of furnace quits and the humming of the refrigerator stops. Parenthood is on, but I can’t watch it.
Sometimes, things get decided for us.
So I hear the message and I allow it in. I grab a few squares of chocolate and I miss my after-dinner tea. The cat settles in next to me. He lays sideways so his body is touching the side of my leg. I wrap a blanket around my shoulders and I write. I check my laptop battery and then I write some more.
I go to bed hungry, but I feel full.