The Life: Powerless

by Rachel on November 30, 2011

Sunday night, Eric and I got back to Houston around 8:00; it was a little later than we had planned to get back into town, but not too late. As I started pulling my stuff from the car, I looked at our apartment building and noticed the stairs were completely dark. As were all the apartments. Power outage?

At this point, we were about eight hours into The Hunger Games audiobook, which I had convinced Eric to listen to on the road trip, thinking he’d like it. (And he did.) But I had only read it once and I had forgotten how creepy it is at times. The whole series is pretty stressful and leaves me feeling paranoid and stressed out. When we came upon the darkened apartment, all I could think about was how Katniss talks about how they have very little electricity in the Seam where she lives. So I naturally started to worry that at any second, I’d be attending a Reaping.

We used our phones as flashlights to navigate our way to the apartment, which, unsurprisingly, was powerless. I lit a bunch of candles and we started bringing in the rest of our bags. At some point, we ran into a neighbor who said that a few minutes prior — presumably just minutes before we pulled up — there had been a very loud thud, which is apparently the universal symbol for “your transformer is fucked.”

Our building was the only one in the apartment complex affected, as all run on different transformers. Since less people were affected, I assumed fixing it wasn’t going to be anyone’s priority — and I was right.

But the power company said the power would be back on by midnight, so Eric and I hunkered down with our candles and the audiobook. It felt kind of old-fashioned (didn’t our grandparents used to sit around and listen to audiobooks on their iPhones by candlelight?) and lovely.

The next morning, the power was not on, and it felt old-fashioned…in a bad way. We had no hot water and though I didn’t want to know for sure, I was pretty sure our fridge and freezer were filled with rotting food. My laundry was dirty and so was my body; I actually hadn’t showered since…Saturday? Friday?

I went in to work early, hoping no one would see me. I took my makeup and curling iron so I could try to pull myself together there. When I walked out of the office bathroom with all my stuff, one of my bosses was there. “My apartment has no power!” I blurted out, feeling awkward about the fact that I had been in the bathroom for 10 minutes with all my personal grooming products. He accepted this at face value, but I assume every deadbeat uses this excuse when they, for whatever reason, start sleeping at the office. I figured rumors were going to start circulating soon that if I truly had no power, it was because I was a raging alcoholic and didn’t pay the bill. I mean, I’d spread rumors like that that about me if I weren’t me.

My gross feeling was made far worse by the fact that I seriously needed my eyebrows waxed. Since the sun set early, I was only aware of this fact when I was in my car or at work, when it would hit me that if I’m not going to shower for four days, I better be sure my eyebrows are groomed. I could make peace with not showering or shaving, but the bushy brows were what made me feel like everyone was staring at me.

When I went home at lunch on Monday, it still wasn’t back on…nor was it back on that evening. It had been 24 hours without power and our apartment was starting to get quite cold. Eric and I bundled up, ate Chinese takeout by candlelight, and then finished The Hunger Games. (We had been playing Words with Friends for a while, but I didn’t want to kill my phone battery, as I had no way of charging it.) Then we stayed up half the night talking about the book, which only added to my feelings of paranoia over our lack of  electricity. Was this an act of the Capitol? Judging by my eyebrows, yes…I was living it.

The next morning, the power still wasn’t back on. I made an eyebrow appointment though, which improved my mood. Everything else — how gross I felt, how I couldn’t find my clean laundry, how I’d been eating fast food for every meal, how cold it was in the apartment — felt less bad once my eyebrows were cleaned up. (What is it about brow waxes?!)

Finally, after approximately 40 hours, the power was restored and after turning on the lights and the heat, I took one of the best showers of my life. To be honest, I find showering really boring and dull. I don’t like a hot shower or see it as a spa-like experience; I find the whole thing to be a huge waste of time. But there have been a few times in my life when I’ve really, really wanted to shower and actually enjoyed the act itself. You know when you’ve been in the smokiest bar ever and then thrown up on yourself and then slept with your make-up on and your contacts in on someone else’s couch? And you finally drag your hungover self home and into the shower? This was that kind of shower. It just felt so incredibly good to be clean and then moisturized, warm, and cozy.

(This also made me feel like I was, in fact, in The Hunger Games, being prepared in the Capitol for the games, so I’m still not entirely convinced that my power going out was an actual accident. “The reformer caught on fire”? Sounds suspect to me.)