Lost & Found – When the power goes out

It’s one of those End of the World sort of days. Nature is pissed off, or wildly drunk, or maybe just letting her hair down and putting her foot to the gas pedal. Everything is transformed, charged with a tension that crackles like static electricity.

Late in the afternoon, I’m jogging along the seawall and the wind is blowing so hard I’m barely moving. It’s throwing the spray of slate grey waves high in the air, flinging seagulls around like scraps of dirty white cloth. The sky is as dark as night, and I have a sudden irrational fear of being swept off into the deeps.

A while later, Stanley Park is closed to traffic. There are orange pylons marking a place where broken power lines are dancing a few inches above the ground–venomous snakes dangling from a tree branch. All the dogs in the neighbourhood are barking, but you can barely hear them.

When I get home, there’s a cyclone of dead leaves spinning around in the backyard. Sheets of newspaper and other unknown types of debris are hurling themselves at the walls and windows of our house. I half expect to see the ghost of Cathy Linton hovering outside.

That night, dinner is eaten by candlelight. Potato chips and smoked oysters and mandarin oranges. We put batteries in the transistor radio and listen to Air Supply and Pablo Cruise on the oldies station.

We take ourselves off to bed and take turns reading a book to each other by flashlight. Gradually the beam loses its intensity and becomes a small buttery yellow blob on the page. Falling into dreams, sometimes the wind sounds like howling beasts, other times like an orchestra tuning up. Or the singing of mermaids.

At one in the morning our six-month-old daughter is awoken by the storm and we can’t get her back to sleep. So we get in the car and drive around taking a look at all the damage. Branches and tree limbs everywhere. Emergency vehicle lights and screaming sirens.

We park the car on a bluff looking out over the ocean. The wind is rocking us from side to side, trying to rip the antenna off, shatter the glass, peel off the roof like the top of a sardine can. Then, it just starts to die away. And then nothing except the sound of breathing from the back seat. The lights of downtown look intensely bright and beautiful this night, as though somebody carefully arranged and lit them just for us. It’s one of those times that you realize your memory is taking Polaroid pictures, one after another.