That's how I began my day today – powerless, as in literally without power. It was the silence that woke me, the absence of the humming soundtrack of my nights produced by the two fans that cross check my bed. One is a standing fan that could make a strong run for the position of last airbender, and the other a table fan that runs year round to keep air circulating in my windowless room. I woke to quiet and darkness sans furry companions and realized that lo, the power was gone.
My whole morning changed in an instant. I couldn't dry my hair, which meant less prep time required to get to work. So of course, I went right back to bed. I try to never waste an opportunity for another 5 minutes of sleep. But my mind was already going at a mile an hour, processing the implications and examining the day ahead, mentally reorganizing my wardrobe choices to fit the change in circumstances, so I gave in and got up. And what was at the top of my list of concerns? The fact that if the power didn't come on by 10 PM, I'd miss watching Justified tonight. Yep, sometimes, that's exactly the height of my priorities.
Do you know how many things we do every day, infinitesimal moments of living that require power? All morning, I kept flipping on the lights without thinking and then actually wondering for a second why they weren't working. I was setting up the coffee pot for my mother and even with my handy Maglight I couldn't manage to see the watermark. But I didn't want to take it to the window for a better look because then I'd have to unplug it and reset the clock. Then I realized the clock was already gone because there was no power. Polish moment times ten.
Fortunately, the power came on just as I got out of the shower, so my blow drying needs were met and my wardrobe choices reversed once again. Despite the heat reaching crazy levels already here in the Garden State, I'm still forcing hot air on my head every morning. Can't be a Jersey Girl without the hair.
I had a pretty good Memorial Day weekend. I even cooked! Twice! OK, burgers one night and steak the other, but still an accomplishment for me. Caught Prince of Persia on Friday afternoon (next week's Movie Monday topic), and finally managed to clean my pit of a bedroom on Saturday (an event as I have the housekeeping skills of a 13-year-old boy). Didn't manage to point the vacuum in its direction yet, but that's coming. I can actually move in it now and even found an unopened bag of Starburst jellybeans along the way. No, not ewww. Unopened. That's key.
Sunday, we took a drive down to Lambertville, a family favorite activity that has become more wearying now that I live 30 minutes farther north in North Jersey than ever before. Not something I thought of when I suggested the drive. But it was a beautiful drive down the Pennsie side of the Delaware River itself flowing and churning along, fat and sassy from all the rain we've had this spring. Seriously, if you like tubing or canoeing or kayaking, this is the summer to get to it.
It was the first time I'd driven the CR-V down the windy, narrow route 32. Some of those corners freaked me out no matter that I've been driving them upwards of 15 years. Couple of times, I really expected to scrape up against the rock wall. I couldn't figure out why it felt difficult this time around more narrow and tricky. No, it wasn't my speed. It was the size of the car, the small SUV significantly broader than my former Civic. I'm telling you, it felt like we had some close calls.
We'd gotten fantastic STJ sandwiches at Market Basket and about 4pm finally planted ourselves on a bench outside the Sojourners boutique in Lambertville that I like so much. I really like the Sojourners boutique. It's pretty much the only shop in the town that I must visit when I'm there. I always wind up finding a nice pair of earrings for not a lot of money, which is excellent for me because I am abysmally cheap. This time, it was a pair of earrings, a necklace and earring set, and a beautiful bracelet. That's pretty much my shopping quota for a year.
There's an overt East Asian atmosphere in the store that grows as you move through the store and into its back room where handmade clothes and home décor are featured along with incense, candles, and their accessories. I'm long past my hippy dippy stage, if I ever had one, but I do have a weakness for Indian products. I love the drama of the jewelry, the beautiful saris and flowing pashminas in elegantly lush colors. Also, I'm fond of elephant figurines. Totally random. Go figure. But my favorite part of the store, apart from the jewelry is the shoes. Shocking, I know. I'll never, ever be able to wear any of the exquisite, unique shoes they sell; they're narrow and generously heeled. But they are glorious.
Lambertville was predictably packed with people, a lot of the foot traffic going back and forth across the bridge to New Hope. I love people watching almost as much as car watching. A black van drove by with the band The Who's emblem on its wheel well and the phrase "We won't be fooled again" headlining its back door. I could write a suppositional thesis on that alone. A bride and groom and their attendants walked through the town too, a trifecta of photographers in their wake. I also saw a red, two-door Honda Civic cruising by with – hey! – my dad at the wheel. Hi guys! Fancy seeing you here!
I haven't been to a parade in years. One thing you miss by not being part of a traditional nuclear family is an inclusion in the community around you. Without kids, there's none of the myriad school minutiae and connections to tie you in, no bands or baseball teams boy or girl scouts to march in the town parade. Normally, I've got something going on or simply can't be bothered to get up and get out to the parade – for some of those suckers, you gotta get up dang early to be well situated and I don't do well before noon. This year, I didn't want to pass another holiday watching NCIS marathons or the like. So I piggybacked on my friends' family's activities – my surrogate family – enjoying the Rochelle Park parade with them under Monday's unforgiving sun. I was their stereotypical "maiden" aunt, topping off my hat and shades couture with an actual umbrella to ward off the sun. Man, I'm getting old.
It was a blast watching everyone march past, smiling, throwing candy, the classic cars and the fire trucks, while band after band decided not to play just as they reached our spot simply to make us feel all special, I'm sure. Afterwards we walked the small distance to the American Legion to reclaim children and enjoy flat, cold soda (ambrosia), hot dogs and popcorn with face painting and balloon animals for the kids. That walk, small as it was, kicked my butt but good and I spent the rest of the afternoon napping on the chaise with a Harry Potter DVD running in the background while Hollis rollicked in the sunspot next to me. Not a bad way to wind down the weekend.
I looked around the American Legion patio and saw the community, the parents and grandparents, the weary, sweating marchers, the hoards of running, screaming children that didn't bug me for a minute. It reminded me of how much I miss being part of such a community. We've only been in our new place going on two years now, so we're still relatively new to the area and without those traditional community ties, it's not easy to break through that. My day-to-day life revolves boringly around work, parent, grandparents, bills, the next crisis and the one after that, and writing. Until I get to those bright, shining weekends when I'm instantly absorbed back into my go-to community of writers who remind me of how good it feels to belong.
Everyone needs a place to belong, a place to be in community. Otherwise, we really do become powerless.