We Missed History

Last night, Tuesday, November 04, 2008, a date that will be noted historically I believe, because momentous history was made… we got lost in the dark.

At 6pm while I was cooking dinner (Pork Chops with Carmelized Onions, oh yeah!), the house went dark. We all paused briefly, waiting for the lights to flicker back on. I stood in the kitchen for a couple of minutes before deciding it was time to light some candles. My husband continued battling on in his online multi-player game, unaware that he was no longer sending a signal to the server and therefore effectively dead in his game. My daughter came out of her room shortly after also, likely taking a couple of minutes to realize that she too was no longer connected in her online game. We lit candles, and waited. My husband took our dog for a walk around the block. He came back confirming our guess that it was our whole neighborhood and not just our cul-de-sac. A street light could be seen on a hill several blocks away, possibly many blocks. It’s hard to tell in the dark. We passed some time, my daughter reading a book, me playing Solitaire via the battery on my laptop, my husband watching The Shield on his Zune.

At 6:45pm we decided that we’d better hit the road for some dinner. Certainly my electric stove and oven weren’t going to deliver anything. (Another good reason for a gas stove!) Traffic was really heavy. The last vestiges of commuter traffic, plus we were guessing people rushing to turn in their ballots before 8pm at the library or city hall. When we got to the restaurant near our house, the parking lot was curiously empty. Daughter and husband thought it was probably normal for a Tuesday night. I didn’t think so. As we got out of our vehicle we could see one of the waiters unlocking the doors inside. It turns out their power went out at 6pm too. If it stayed off until 7:15 they were going to get to leave. At 7:10 the power came back on. I can imagine they weren’t very happy about that. We debated about going home… after all, our power went off at 6pm, so it was surely back on. But, we were hungry and decided it would take a long time to get back home and finish cooking dinner, so we stayed. On the TV in the bar we could see little red and blue states lighting up, but not clearly and we couldn’t hear anything.

At 7:50 we got back in the car to go home. We heard the news that Obama was going to give a speech in about 10 minutes.  We weren’t sure we’d heard correctly. Surely it was too early to call the race. After all, here in Oregon we hadn’t all finished putting our voting ballots in the ballot box. We had until 8pm. (We personally had done ours days earlier.)  They repeated it, Senator Obama was going to give a speech, something about being the President-Elect. We weren’t surprised with the result, but the speed with which it was determined was startling. Really? Could it be over that fast?

At 8pm we pulled into our neighborhood, fully expecting to turn on the TV to watch History being made. But it was not to be. The lights were still off everywhere we could see. At that moment I was more concerned with the food that was still on my stove (I had of course turned the stove off), the dog that had been left in the dark, the mess on the floor from said dog getting into the garbage in my daughter’s room, and the election receded in my mind. We spent the next couple of hours continuing our earlier pursuits of reading, puzzling, and watching old tv episodes via Zune. And of course, we decided it would be prudent to have some of the Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie that was in the freezer. After all, it would probably melt!

At 10:30 we decided it was time to call it a night. Just as we were getting into bed, at 10:38, BLING, all the lights came on. This was a relief since we had to get up in the morning and relying on my cell phone alarm seemed a bit risky.

This morning we realized more fully that we had missed history in the making. Most everyone else I know was probably watching the results on tv, was listening to Obama claim victory and McCain concede the race, and watching those little blue and red states light up, from 1 and 2 states to all 50.  My husband and I are both sad that we missed out on an event that will likely be a cultural benchmark in this country, the event of a lifetime! What a bummer!

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