Home (freewriting 1.14)

Natalie’s Prompt: Where is home for you? Go. Ten minutes.

Some say home is where you hang your hat. I’ve got a bunch of hats. It seems that whenever I visit someplace new I get a hat. When I was a big dude, buying shirts didn’t make much sense because I could seldom find one that would fit me anyway. And, being a balding chap, hats hid the proof.

I’ve got a really cool hat from the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey. We went there the day after the power went out in New York a few years back. It was quite a caravan: my family, my in-laws, two nephews and one niece. Eleven of us total. I led the convoy out of our driveway in NE Indiana bright and early and didn’t plan on stopping until we reached the Statue of Liberty; the kids wanted to see it at night. It was somewhere around Cleveland when we heard the first reports of power outages across the North East. The chipper announcers didn’t seem too worried about New York; the lights should be back on by evening.

I stopped listening to the radio.

We could see the lights of Newark. But where the map said New York City should be, there was nothing but darkness. We managed to see Lady Liberty, one of two things somehow illuminated against the surrounding black. I got us close but we had to turn around and head back an hour into Jersey to find a hotel that wasn’t full.

The next day everything was pretty much shut down. Parks were open and free. Mother-in-law chose the Liberty Science Center. Not free but worth the price; it housed a replica of a dinosaur named Sue.

And a gift shop full of hats. I took one home and hung it up, wondering when the lights will go out again.

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3 thoughts on “Home (freewriting 1.14)

  1. What a story. Did everyone maintain a sense of humor about the blackout?

    I’m curious, what was the other thing that was illuminated?

    Glad you have the hat to go with this great story.

  2. My in-laws are the most laid back folks around, so we took it all in stride. Looking at that satellite image, it’s amazing we even continuued to drive during the night. I don’t remember it being that dark everywhere. Power had begun to be restored in some places. As I said, Newark was already lit up by the time we got there. And all the kids were asleep, so they really didn’t know what was going on until we reached the statue of liberty. The only other thing I remember being lit up was the Empire State building.

    I vividly recall sitting down to watch the news once we got settled into the motel. Seeing reporters out in the darkened streets of New York was very surreal. What impressed me was the way the city seemed to pull together. People were setting up coffee stands and small groups were forming around generator-powered lamps. People were smiling and behaving . . . no reports of looting or violence that I can recall.

    We had hoped to stay somewhere in Newark and walk over the New York, since it is the city that never sleeps. But we were too far away for any once-in-a-lifetime sightseeing.

    It was a very strange evening.

    Of course everything was lit up again when we came back through on our way home from Boston. That was our destination . . . family reunion. But there was no time to stop. Oh well . . .

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