It was a dark and stormy night…

The power went out last night.

A large thunderstorm cell, complete with a few tornados, quarter-sized hail and a lightening show that seemed straight from the Old Testament, passed through Eastern Nebraska, downing trees and power lines with abandon.

A view of the ominous clouds in Omaha last night. Photo courtesy Megan Kresha.
A view of the ominous clouds in Omaha last night. Photo courtesy Megan Kresha.

 

The neighbors next door never lost power, and many of my friends in the neighborhood were unaffected. But something amazing transpired in the midst of the power outage (which was just recently restored at my abode.)

My roommate and I walked in the house about one hour after the outage, having just survived a harrowing bus ride through a slowly flooding Eastern Iowa.

We were greeted by a cluster of scented candles casting a soft light on a circle of ten girls (and one of their boyfriends.) They were watching old episodes of “The Office” on a slowly dying laptop while eating pizza and drinking Sierra Mist. We sat down and joined the crew, sprawled out on leather couches and the floor.

Something happened then; it was like we were under a spell of togetherness. Here we were, the best of friends, huddling around and banding together to tackle the flooding basement and the spooky noise of tree limbs creaking. We traded secrets and laughs, and gossiped for old times’ sake. There was limited hot water and offers of showers other places, but I couldn’t leave. It was like magic.

The mixture of apple cinnamon and floral scents coming from the candles began to give me a headache, and the lack of fan power made the parlor unbearably hot. The windows were opened, and the loud sound of the rain made it seem like we were in some remote cabin.

Claire gets creative with her reading light. Anything for Game of Thrones, right? Snapchat courtesy Sara Laughlin.
Claire gets creative with her reading light. Anything for Game of Thrones, right? Snapchat courtesy Sara Laughlin.

We joked about the Oregon Trail and who would survive as a pioneer. One roommate said she “was having Netflix withdrawals.” It was part giant sleepover, part camping and complete fun. A house-wide game of hide and seek was decided on. I declined, but it was highly amusing watching them tiptoeing around with flashlights and hearing screams of terror when someone was caught off-guard.

It was like we were kids again, a most welcomed distraction from the pressure of impending adulthood that will land on us—thud—after next week’s college graduation. We were carefree, slaphappy and giddy with laughter. It was an elusive and fleeting feeling, one that I wanted to fold up and tuck away forever.

After a quick shower by candlelight and a fruitless rummaging through the pitch-black closet, I read a magazine by flashlight before it began to flicker.

The sound of a chainsaw buzzing floated through the open window this morning, rousing me from a slumber.  I removed my eye mask and sat up. (Yes, I am aware that the fact I sleep with an eye mask makes me a diva. Deal with it.) Still no power.  The alarm clock was black, the fans still off. Crap.

It had been fun last night, running around and pretending to be a child. But now the pressures of responsibility were kicking in. There were documents to turn in, emails to send, and an iPhone monthly data allowance slowly counting down in the back of my mind. And as much as I hate to admit it, my life is almost entirely dependent on a fully functioning Wi-Fi connection.

So, I brushed my teeth in the dark, put on my favorite hat and drove to a coffee shop under the guise of a morning bagel and not to be an internet-sucking vampire.

Two hours later, I have had so much coffee that I am jittery, but I find myself lingering here, not wanting to go back. Because the worst part about this isn’t the lack of hot water or light or device-charging power; it is that no power = no coffee = grumpy Amanda. It’s my own personal example of the power of the transitive property of equality.  (See? I did pay attention in Mr. Cool’s geometry class!)

As I walked to my car, I saw signs of the night before. Mugs and pizza boxes littered the living room, and candles were scattered on end tables.  Couches were pushed together into a large makeshift bed for those too afraid to go upstairs. Nearly every window was open, and a cool breeze permeated the house, filling it with the smell of rain and a sense of calm. I took one last look around and headed to my car, avoiding the numerous branches on the ground.

Something as like a 12-hour-plus power outage presents a lot of lifestyle issues. However, despite all of these hindrances, this relative insignificant issue made for a perfect evening that I will never forget.

Omahans—did your power go out last night? Anyone else still without electricity? Have you ever had a fun evening powered by candlelight?

 

The Last Supper (in Alabama)

1962247_10203748272051224_448696921_oA fine layer of sand coated the tile floor. It got between our toes and in the sheets, but the grainy irritant was a small price to pay for a perfect spring break.

It was the last night in our Alabama condo. The 12 of us gathered together for dinner. It was a last supper of sorts, one final and carefree gathering before the hectic two-month dash to graduation began.

The table was humble, the meal simple. Bread was broken in the form of frozen pizza and green pepper strips. We washed down the food with lukewarm beer and orange juice.  Instead of a prayer, we shared inside jokes and rehashed forgotten memories from freshman year.

Yes, the weeklong sunburn festival was coming to a close, much like our college days. And after we waxed nostalgic, plans for the future were discussed.  A sense of melancholy pervaded the festivities, a reminder that we were now firmly in the category of “lasts.”

I attempted to brush some sand off of my shin, gave up, and looked around at my friends. I stopped talking and tried to absorb the feeling, not wanting to forget any detail. I created a mantra in my mind: “These people are great. They are my best friends. And I will miss them dearly.”

Then I took a deep breath and a bite of macaroni and cheese, and went back to scrubbing at the stubborn sand.

The 5 people you will see when you go ice skating

Ice skating
Ice skating (Photo credit: henry…)

I have deemed ice skating to the be great equalizer in life. People have argued that education, guns, mortality or nuclear weapons deserve this distinction. They are wrong. And I will tell you why.

Lest you grew up in a Nordic country (read: Minnesota) sliding around on ice is not easy. It’s bizarre. There is nothing natural about tying sharp pieces of metal on your feel and then going on a slick surface that is generally avoided. No helmets, pads or cushions are there to break your fall. Just the cold, cold ice.

The ruthless forces of gravity can literally bring a grown man to his knees. A tiny tot who can’t even go to the bathroom by themselves can skate circles around everyone else.

As I alluded to last week, I recently went ice skating. It was fun. I managed to not fall or freeze. My favorite part was the people watching. So here is my list of the five people you will see when you go ice skating.

  1. The couple holding hands. I’m not a fan of people holding hands in public spaces. And it’s not just because I am single and jealous of their love. (Okay, well maybe a little.) It’s because they are so difficult to maneuver around. It’s like when people walk two wide on the track at the gym. It is inconvenient! So if walking and holding hands is not a good idea, why would skating while holding hands be? You aren’t on a tiny, romantic pond. You are at an ice rink in downtown Omaha. Little kids are falling while trying to go around you. Just stop.
  2. Shredder showoff. These dudes and dudettes are the coolest people at the ice rink. Like, totally. They know lots of tricks, like going really really fast and then stopping really really suddenly. Wicked awesome, except for all the divots they create in the ice from their shenanigans.
  3.  The inappropriately dressed girl. I don’t want to pick on my ladies, but I have yet to see a gentleman wear a dress to the ice rink. This isn’t the Olympics. You aren’t Michelle Kwan. Aren’t your legs cold? Doesn’t the boot upper irritate your skin? Are your movements restricted? What happens when you fall?  I get it, I get it. A girl wants to look nice. But at the ice rink, I rank warmth and functionality over looking cute and stylish.
  4. The Weebles. A Weeble, as in the iconic children’s toy “Weebles Wobble” is a person who falls down thousands of times yet always pops back up, ready for more skating. These can be young skaters, their bodies uninjured by the fall, or more “mature” individuals whose pride hurts more than a skinned knee or elbow.
  5. The confident losers. This is the category I place myself in. These are the people who don’t know how to skate, but they fake it. Lap by lap, their grip loosens on the side until they are slowly hobbling along by their own momentum. A magical moment. These are the people who cause the majority of accidents, because they don’t know any better. They are truly clueless, yet confident in their new found skating skills.

And as an added bonus, here is the person you will always see at the skate rink, but not on the ice. This person is the mom who stands on the sidelines and holds her daughter’s purse and son’s cell phone. She takes a million pictures and buys the whole group hot chocolate during Zamboni breaks. You have have seen her on the sidelines of any number of events: soccer tournaments, dance competitions, a school concert, etc.

Have you seen any of these people ice skating? Which category do you think you are in?