Utterly Surreal … And Equally Lucky

I’m sitting in The Daniele hotel five blocks from our home in University City, Mo., watching Brian Williams report — briefly — on the reasons for the impromptu hotel stay: our power has been out since a massive storm front swept through Wednesday evening. We’re far from alone. Nearly 300,000 households in the metro area are sans power — some, like us, for nearly a week, others since last Friday’s encore storm. We finally gave up on most of the contents of the packed refrigerator/freezer in the kitchen and the large upright freezer in the garage. We can replace a lot of it with a few shopping trips but a large chunk of the spoiled food was squirreled away as I cooked over a period of months; some was from friends. (Then there was the stash of Frango mints … ] And yet, we are among the luckiest of the power-less. We were able to check into an affordable hotel with air conditioning (except for one very nasty night), online access, and wonder of wonders, OLN on cable so we didn’t miss the climax of the Tour de France. The hotel cut back considerably on service, closing the restaurant, not cleaning the rooms for several days, but still a plus, especially when considering how far some neighbors had to travel for a room or how some couldn’t get at all one during the worst of it. Ad, as my brother Edward points out, it’s not like it’s unusual for me to spend a week in a hotel. Our closest grocery stores are open; ditto for Companion Bakehouse, Northwest Coffee, various Starbucks and most of our usual haunts, allowing us a semblance of normalcy and some simple pleasures. We’ve been able to fill our gas tanks. We haven’t had to scramble for water or food. We don’t have pets or children to worry about. (We’ve been through a sweltering power outage with small kids and have nothing but empathy for anyone in that situation.) Our house survived; our cars are intact. (I heard about someone today whose family had four cars totalled in the storm.) The health crises we dealt with earlier this summer are past, leaving us well into recovery mode. And, for anyone who’s ever had to deal with a fridge gone bad, someone else did the emptying and cleanup, for which I am truly thankful.

As all of this plays out, we’re getting reports from our close friends on a kibbutz near Haifa, where my mother and niece spent time in the peaceful days of early summer … more reminders of how precious life is and how good we have it. Today’s message was welcome news — and more surreal than anything we’ve experienced here: a new baby is in the family, born underground in Nahariya.

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