The Northeast Blackout of 2003
A Writer’s Book of Days (09/04) – We go out after dark
It doesn’t matter if we’re inside or outside. It’s August 14, 2003, and there are no lights anywhere, except for the occasional headlight or flashlight. Power is out in the entire Northeast, and we sit on the front steps to try and get some air. The fans in the house are no longer working to keep us cool.
Most of the neighbors have ventured outside by this point. People are sitting on their porches chatting away and telling jokes and stories. Laughter can be heard up and down the block as people tried to make the best of the blackout.
A group of us decide to take a walk down to Main Street. A huge crowd is gathering around one of the stores. My friend Kenny spots me and yells for me to come get some ice cream. Scoops is emptying out its freezers for a quarter an ice cream bar, but I have no money on me. He has some extra change on him and buys me a Cremesicle.
We ran into neighbors we haven’t seen in months as we stroll the dark streets with our ice cream. We hear familiar voices and ask, “Hey, is that [insert name here]?” as we train our flashlights upon the shadowy figures walking by.
Everybody is so busy these days that face-to-face interaction seems to be a rarity, except for the occasional wave as someone was pulling out of their driveway or mowing the front lawn. The blackout, while annoying, gave us all a rare chance to reconnect. The fleeting moment was gone by 11pm as the lights flickered back on and we all retreat back home. But it’s a night I’ll never forget.