Dark City

As most people who were following this particular news story over the weekend will know, Hurricane Irene did thankfully little damage to the Washington DC area. Our cable/internet/phone service went out for about 24 hours, and a lot of Takoma and Takoma Park was without power as well. But aside from a walk up to the farmer’s market on Sunday morning, I hadn’t gone out until late in the afternoon when I hopped the Metro to downtown and caught The Help. My metro station had no power, so all the gates were open and we were told to get the station conductor at our destination to get our cards scanned there. (Happily the person running the exit gate at Gallery Place just let me out without having to pay. Free ride!)

But it was after the movie, when we were driving home (Charlie had driven down earlier in the day to get some work done) that we discovered that a lot of DC still didn’t have any power. It was around 9:30 at night, and as we drove up North Capitol Street/Blair Road, the one mile stretch between Madison St and Whittier St was almost completely dark.

It’s initially an eerie sensation to drive through a completely dark city street. Never mind the lack of street or traffic lights, there are no porch lights, or glimmers from people’s windows… nothing. And there were remarkably few cars out on the road, either, which plunged our ride home into even further darkness.

It was rather beautiful. It makes you feel like you’re the only people out there (even though it’s of course patently not true), gliding quietly through the darkness. Occasionally a car going southbound would pass by, but otherwise we were all alone in the night, the city to ourselves, our surroundings shifting back and forth from a purplish-black to complete darkness.

When we got to Aspen Rd (and power), it was almost a bit of a disappointment. Sure, I was glad that we still had power at home, and felt bad for my friends and neighbors that were going without. But it was a pleasant, brief experience that is rarely duplicated.

So in all sincerity… thanks, Irene. You really were good for something, after all.