Quiet settles over the apartment, a layer of heavy nothingness. The lights go out with a pop as the voices on the radio fade. There is no hum from the refrigerator or buzz from the air conditioner and the dishwasher suddenly stops whooshing. There is only the sound of the baby thrashing his stuffed dog back and forth with a wild arm.
It is strange that I never noticed how much noise these energy-hungry devices make while they guzzle electricity until they are cut off from their source in a quick death. In their wake they leave behind a literal feeling of powerlessness and a void that is impossible to fill without the cooperation of Middle Tennessee Electric Co-op.
Without electricity to cool and circulate the air, the apartment quickly heats up like a cozy, little oven, a sign that our energy efficient residence is only efficient at increasing the cost of our utility bills as we apparently air-condition the entire middle TN area. I push open the windows and let the heat roll in with the sounds of the chattering birds and the deliberations of two maintenance men as they discuss the repair of a washing machine.
Meanwhile, Mr. Baby flips over and is wriggling his way across the floor towards the cat, his lifelong frenemy, with an obvious fur-pulling goal in mind. I use a magazine to fan my face, a less than optimal use of The Atlantic, and prepare to intervene in the fight that is about to ensue.
We disconnect and leave the grid for a few hours, retreating into our own private world of building blocks, diapers, and vast quantities of milk. When the fans and motors running the machines that keep us comfortable restart, I realize that I miss the quiet that I didn’t know I was missing even though I have been informed that we are now officially restored.