Where were you during the Blackout of 2003?

Ten years ago, when the big Blackout happened across a third of this country, my little girl was gestating in utero and my eldest curly-haired boy was a frolicking toddler.

We were religious then and packed up our abundant amounts of celebratory Sabbath foods and headed north, devastated by the idea of a Sabbath in the dark and airless heat of summer. The first night of the Blackout, we laid on the family room floor in hopes of finding a cool breeze through the night, my big belly mountainous beside my little sweet boy.

How silly that we fled to a hotel to wait out the Blackout. Stuck in the dark and fearful of staying in it? Sheesh. Thank God I’ve come so far since then.

I remember that feeling, though, that fear of remaining in an uncomfortable situation. Seeking at all counts possible an escape toward the known.

So many of us can’t make our way through the murk into something more familiar. What if we did, though? What if we mustered up the patience and courage to face whatever unknowns scare us the most? Imagine the glee waiting on the other side, like a little boy holding a balloon on a summer afternoon, all sunshine and blue sky and ice cream truck eager.

The Blackout ended just before the Sabbath began, but we were tucked into our hotel with the hot plate plugged in and visions of a Saturday afternoon in the indoor pool. My in-laws even ventured north with us.

This year, it’s a very different story.

Tomorrow, I leave for a long weekend alone with my daughter, in celebration of her 10th birthday coming this fall. An adventure of our own, some much-needed one-on-one time and an exploration of cities and towns and landscapes and new sky just to cherish the fact that we are alive, together, and inspired.

The boys (yes, little guy came along after this story!) leave with their father (no longer my husband of course) for another celebratory Sabbath, this one for their cousin’s impending wedding this Sunday. My husband cherishes his little girl alone at our home.

I’ve lived in this house now for 10+ years, and it’s amazing what time does to familiar surroundings. There is wear and tear and yet familiarity and comfort. These walls are known to me. They hold arguments and tears and joy and passion.

When we arrived home from mid-Michigan that many years ago, glad to see the lights on as we pulled into the driveway, we heard a blaring mush of noise coming from inside the house. Teenage party? Raucous marauders?

No, our little boy had played with all the knobs on the old intercom system during the Blackout. No technology working, there was no noise as evidence. It had been playing, screaming, blaring the amorphous sound of radio fuzz all the hours that we’d endured the Sabbath in hotel silence.

I turned the knob. Switched it off. The house once again shrouded in silence.

Except for the bubbly laugh of my little boy, and the comforting kicks of my daughter inside me, and the knowledge that no matter how far we run, we always have to come home to the Self, to the quiet, to the incredibly knowable unknown.

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