Monday, June 15, 2009

Lightning

Last Tuesday we woke up to . . . . darkness. Since Bella is occasionally sneaky like that, asking me if she can turn on the television or get some juice when it's 5:45 a.m., I had to look at the clock to make sure it really was 7:00 a.m., not 3:30 a.m. We cranked up the tv, started the coffee pot, turned NPR on in the kitchen, flipped open a laptop to check headlines, and I started methodically making Bella's lunch for school-camp. All to the delightful backdrop of one of the most wicked thunder and lightning displays I've ever experienced. Flashing, cracking, booming, dishes rattling, rain spilling over the gutters.

And suddenly, the thunder actually hit a split second before the lightning, there was a blinding boom, and NPR shut off. The lights stayed on, curiously, but Mr. ABF noted that we had lost our internet connection. We thought we may have experienced a direct hit, but just the radio and not the lights? Not the television? We continued our morning, and less than an hour later Mr. ABF got in the car to drive Bella off, and clicked the button to open our brand-new, two-week old automatic gate opener (part of the kitchen reno was a driveway to get the cars off the street) and it was dead. Deader than dead.

Upon his return, we went in the basement to examine what the deal was. The cable that brings internet into our house (but not our televisions; we're satellite people) runs through a box, which was fine. The light was on. Everything on the other side of that box, however -- the wireless routers and so forth -- were blitzed. The radio happens to be right next to the box, we just rebooted that and it was fine. The wire from the gate opener happens to run out of the house hear the cable box as well, and the fuse box to the gate was black and still smoking.

We apparently got hit by lightning.

As if you didn't know that already.

My theory, and I'm no meteorologist, is that lightning actually hit the lightning rod on our house, which runs to ground right by where all this stuff enters our house. And the shock entered the house through the cable wire, not the electric. But whatever -- we're a few hundred bucks out of routing stuff (thankfully the only computer directly hooked up to the cable was on the third floor, and it was unaffected), and we're to disassemble, dig up, and send in the entire gate mechanism to see if they can fix it. It was a few days without internet.

And a few days of pondering odds. We joke about being struck by lightning, but according to the paper, 2,000 other people reported lightning strikes last Tuesday a.m. (including a friend about 20 miles west, who lost two televisions, both hooked up to cable. No other appliances). Sometimes lightning doesn't just hit you. And if it actually hits the rod, is that a good thing?

:::

No sooner did we get internet access back, than we all piled in the car to go to NY for a friend's wedding. It was his second marriage, as his first ended right around the time he reconnected with Mr. ABF at our old location. I remember a lot of dinners where we invited this guy over and ate and chatted until late in the night. He later told Mr. ABF those dinners were a sort of lifeline for him. We proceeded to witness a good seven years of dates and girlfriends, some of which were deemed important enough to tell us about or even meet; some, apparently, not so much. He moved to NY, we moved here, we all stayed in touch.

For Spring Break, we crashed at his place for a few days while exploring NYC with Bella. He had just started a relationship with a new woman -- in fact, I believe we as a family accompanied them on dates three and four. She was lovely in appearance and spirit, and I was personally won over when Bella offered her a butterfly tattoo and she acted as though Bella was presenting her with a spa makeover. As we were leaving, friend told us he thought this was it -- this was the woman. I think the words "marriage" and "wife" and "killing my J-Date account" actually left his lips, in all our presence, and I wondered if he shouldn't dial it back.

A few weeks later, friend called and asked for Bella. We put her on the phone, and from our end we caught,

"Mmmhmmm, mhhhmm, oh. Yes. Purple. Ok. Here's my dad."

Turns out they're getting married, and Bella just agreed to be a flower girl. In June. It was April, end of. They had been dating approximately 50 days, and were planning to get married on their 100th day of knowing each other. I guess when you know, you know. Sometimes you're struck by lightning.

It was my first wedding since Maddy, and it was a bit strange. I had forgotten how overwhelming positive and happy and upbeat weddings are, and I seriously slouched in my seat, hoping the couple wouldn't catch sight of us and realize how when the rabbi said that "for better or for worse" part he really meant it. Sure, at the rehearsal dinner and the actual night of there was heartwrenching oration on how both the bride and groom each had lost a parent, and how both parents had remarried. (I know how much our friend's loss continues to touch him, and I'm relieved and grateful he found a soulmate with a similar missing piece.) This was followed by examples of how the parents showed them "how to love again," which I suppose for me was a bit touching-slash-bullshit.

Bella was a flower girl, decked out in floofy lilac, sprinkling rose petals. She was in heaven. She continually asked where the bride or groom were located, so she could offer hugs and ask "When are we eating cake?" "When is the chair dance?" At the end of the evening, as we were leaving, we slipped into the photo booth they couple had set up for the guests and Bella and I held hands, jumped up on the trampoline, and the flash went off.

:::

There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. "Such bad luck," they said sympathetically.

"Maybe," the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. "How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed.

"Maybe," replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

"Maybe," answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

"Maybe," said the farmer.


-- "Maybe," Stories from Zen Buddhism

23 comments:

niobe said...

That story reminds me of that pseudo-Zemblan (actually, supposedly Icelandic. Or something. But whatever) proverb Nabokov included in Pale Fire:

The wise at nightfall praise the day.
The wife when she has passed away.
The ice when crossed. The bride
When tumbled. The horse when tried.


Or, more succinctly: It's not over til it's over. And maybe not even then.

Reba said...

love the maybe story. sorry about the lightning. my parents' house has been struck by lightning on two different occasions...both times only frying their dial-up modem. weird.

Michele said...

You are right. When you know, you know. Peter and I were engaged after 2 weeks and exchanged vows 2 weeks later. 11 years later, full of more love and heartache than we could have ever imagined, we are still very much in love. May your friend be happy for a lifetime.

Michele said...

Oops, I hit publish before I was ready!

We had one hell of a thunder/lightening storm last week, too. Freaky! Thank goodness we didnt get hit but it had me awake for quite a few hours and we lost power. Fun times.

loribeth said...

My girlfriend's house was also struck by lightning some years ago, frying several of her appliances. If I remember correctly, her home insurance paid for most if not all the replacement costs.

Tash said...

Loribeth, we're going to file a homeowner's claim, but I think we'll probably just end up paying our deductible. Ah well.

G$ said...

Lightning actually hitting a lightning rod, doing what it was supposed to. Hmm. Weird.

Bella in lilac with rose petals sounds delightful! But did you get to wear your hawt sofft shoes?

Melissia said...

Tell the happy couple congrats for me. And it is true. When Kev and I got married 27 years ago we had known each other 6 weeks and had been engaged for 3. I was 18, he was 23. I would kill my children if they ever tried to do that, but it worked for us.
And now for a little assvice, call an electrican out to the house and have all of your circuits checked if you have not already. It will be covered by your insurance, as we were hit by lightenig last year and we were losing appliances and then our air conditioner for 6 weeks after the lightening strike and the strike was to a tree near our house, not to the house, but lightening travels through the ground, and it eventually took out the dishwasher, several circuits and the entire house conditioning system which was new.
If we had not had the electrician out he could not have reported that there were now fluctuations in the wiring that needed to be fixed due to the lightening damage.
You have most likely already done this, but we thought that we just needed to fix those things not working, it was our insurance company that told us to have an electrician come out and check the circuits for power fluctuations. They are good guys. It didn't save the air conditioner but most likely saved the new heating unit.

k@lakly said...

I'd like to say I'm 'shocked', pardon the pun, but really? No. Why the fuck not is my new motto. Just so glad it was only the replaceables that took the hit this time.
I'll bet Bella was the bell of the ball, sorry bride. Love to see the jumping photo.
Thanks again for the connection, I'll keep you posted.

Aunt Becky said...

Wild. Just wild.

Lynda said...

Wow after only 100 days. I wish I had love like that. That is just beautiful!

The story has so much meaning, it touched me deeply.

Bon said...

i have been feeling pretty maybe, lately. i liked this.

i sometimes wish for lightning, of the metaphorical sort. yours, i am sorry for. and glad you are all okay.

Natalie said...

Lighting is such a peculiar thing.

Bella sounds so adorable as flower girl.

Alice said...

Thanks for the post. That Buddhist story has always been very important to me. It used to be help me remember that actually we don't know what is a good thing and a bad thing ..... But actually, for me, it doesn't work in the stillbirth world. A stillbirth just is a bad thing. Yes, some light can come out of it .... But nothing that can compensate for the loss. But still it's a good story. With love, Alice

Tash said...

Alice, I agree completely. I think my child's death, although I consider it the epitome of bad luck, has really warped my view of luck entirely, so now I really do need to ponder whether something is good or bad. Used to be I knew it instinctively. We were hit by lightning, but it appeared to hit the rod. Am I fucking cursed? Or are 2,000 other people cursed with me? Am I fortunate that my roof didn't catch fire? Will I know the good lightning when it strikes me, or immediately, cynically blow it off?

Bluebird said...

Ugh, so sorry about the lightning; what a headache. And I'm with Alice, too.

charmedgirl said...

lightning rods...is the whole lighting thing a metaphor for how our dead babies create 'lightning rods' in us? how no matter what else could possibly happen to us, we now have this 'safer' pathway for it? how it doesn't have to destroy us totally? sorry...stretching...and i can't even find the right metaphors. stupid brain.

i love those zen buddhist stories. LOVE.

Lisa b said...

I'd love to see you and bella jumping on the trampoline.

CLC said...

Love the zen story. I need to read more of those.
Hope you enjoyed the wedding and sorry about the lightening. It figures because we know lightening can strike twice.

Maggie May said...

I'm new here. Accidentally new. Like most things. I love your blog, your voice. I'm sorry your baby girl died. I'm glad you write. I'll be back.

Julia said...

Totally off topic, but did you know that very story was used in Charlie Willson's War? Towards the end, as the CIA guy is trying to warn the Congressman that mujaheddin left to their own devices and no funding of for development may not be a great thing. I guess we now know how that turned out...

Any word on the gate, these days?

Jenni said...

i know what you mean about weddings. after my divorce, i would go to weddings and think - "oh boy, you have no idea what you are in for" or "good luck with that." and then of course all the schmaltzy bs... and then i went and did it again - got married amid much schmaltz, after knowing the guy 10 months. pregnant on wedding night, babylost 5 months later. now when i see pregnant women, i think "good luck with that." yikes. and to my single girlfriends who are currently dating, i say, don't settle, keep the bar really really high. because this for better or for worse stuff is no joke. now i know.

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