A few moments after three a.m. on Friday morning and I am writing, to the light of candles, in circumstances that are presumably unusual. Three days ago, at about seven-thirty in the evening, following a fire which started not far from here by the Hilton and Sheraton hotels, the electricity to the central Back Bay area of Boston was cut off.
I was in the middle of teaching a piano lesson at home that Tuesday evening when the lights went blank. In slang, people use the word “power” for electricity. Everyone around me was saying “there is no power!” but I immediately developed an objection towards using this word. “Power” sounds to me like something much bigger than electricity, and it reminded me of the power of “The Force” - the ultimate goal of obtainment for the Jedi’s in Star Wars! In any event, my wonderful student Nick was as resourceful as a Jedi when he turned his iPhone’s flashlight on, allowing us to finish the last thirty minutes of our piano lesson to its surprisingly strong light.
The following day all the stores were closed. My mobile phone (and here’s another word I don’t like: “cell-phone” – it sounds like a phone you are using in a cell… spooky!) battery become so precious, and even the philanthropic ATM machine tightened its pockets. At the corner store, the salesperson would bring you the items you bought to the door of the store, and you had to pay in cash because the credit-card swiper was not working. The restaurants were throwing out their frozen food. It was quite surreal.
I have to confess that I enjoyed the first day without electricity a lot: waking up in the morning to a world without computer, without Internet, also without hot water and of course without electric light and heat. There was in it, and there still is, something special – a feeling of closeness to oneself, something spiritual. During the morning, for example, I cleaned the windows so that the light will shine through them. All seemed so peaceful, so natural, and everything was in its place. I also went down to the garden, where I ate a red grapefruit. It was a little chili outside, but I stayed there a while reading.
… And also now, of course, this situation, of writing to the light of candles in the middle of the night, while the darkened street is looming through the windows as if it was from another century. It feels like time travel - if only the cars disappeared and grumbling horses leading carriages took their place again. Now too, this quietness - so special and heavenly. Of course, against this moment fantasies of more exciting times of life arise – being on the beach with my friend and my dog too-many-years-to-count ago, filled with sheer exuberance and excitement while feeling the Middle Eastern sea breeze at night, so abundant with its sensual liveliness. But let us not dismiss the power of this moment too, this total tranquility which is almost frightening, that brings one so close to oneself in the midst of this incandescent candle-lit night, a sort of judgment-day of pleasant soul-searching, filled with heavenly forgiveness.
I would like the electricity to come back this morning, but I also wish that this soul-cleared intimacy would be kept, having risen like a piece of cork above the ocean-waves’ foam in its temporary absence.