As I was driving home from school yesterday, I heard a very quiet little voice from the back of my head. I almost missed it because I truly did need to be focused on the road. However, it made itself known.
I stopped thinking about how disturbingly close the water level was to the sides of the road and remarked, "That's odd! I think I heard something..."
Another voice intruded, one I know quite well. It is the voice I hear in my head most days. It is the voice of reason. It was Rational Mind.
Ignore her. You know who it is and you know where she's going with this.
I agreed wholeheartedly. I most certainly did recognize that voice once I thought about it. And this was no time for Hysterical Mind to be distracting me. The wind was darned near blowing me right off the road for heaven's sake! But still she persisted.
I turned up the radio. I hummed loudly. Rational Mind applauded my efforts and spoke words of encouragement.
Don't let her get to you. Everything is fine. It's rain and, yes, it is going to flood. That much is certain. But we aren't going to let this turn into a disaster movie scenario.
Teeth gritted and hands clenched on the wheel, I continued to make my way through the storm. I could barely see through the driving rains and the wind howled so loudly that it pretty much drowned out everything else. Yet, I still thought I heard something.
Give in to it. Just relax and let Hysterical Mind take care of everything. You know you want to...
It was a close call, but I didn't fall prey to the hysteria. I remained firmly entrenched in Rational Mind's camp. There would be no flailing of arms nor predictions of doom on this night, by gum!!!
I stayed the course right up until bedtime. I slipped into slumber secure in the knowledge that I was Rational. Even the howling winds and periodic rattling of the windows didn't bother me. Neither did the flickering lights. Nor the sirens.
I awoke sometime in the wee hours. Four-thirty, to be exact. Something dragged me from sleep, but it took me a moment to recognize it. It was the gentle voice of Hysterical Mind.
Wake up. C'mon. Waaaaaake uuuuup...
I did not want to wake up. I still had half an hour of sleep left to me and I wasn't going to waste it listening to HM. But she was persistent.
Hey. Have you noticed anything? Something...different?
I squinted around blearily. Everything seemed fine. Except that it didn't. Something was different. It took a moment. And then I had it.
"I'm cold!" I said. I was pleased to finally make the connection but concerned about the chill all the same. HM seemed almost amused by this.
Very good. And what else?
That one took longer. I just couldn't figure it out. Finally, HM stepped in with a hint.
Isn't it usually more RED in here?
Red? Why would it be...wait! The alarm clock! The alarm clock numbers are red! But I didn't seem them. And then I realized that I wasn't hearing the refrigerator. Or seeing the light from the lamp I always leave on in the living room in case the zombies come. Nothing was running! Nothing!!! What was I going to do?????
Are you finally ready to let me take over this operation?
I groped around for Rational Mind, hoping she might be somewhere close and able help me figure out how to stuff HM back into the recesses of my brain. I called and called but all I got was a recording that said:
RM is currently out and unable to take your call. Please leave a message after the beep.
And HM said:
I surrendered. The power was out. Clearly things had gone from rational to hysterical during the overnight hours and it was time to accept it. I checked the battery operated travel clock I keep by the bed and got the correct time. I grabbed the cell phone and clicked the link HM put in there in case I couldn't use the laptop or TV on a snow day. It said that a terrible storm had taken out power all over the state and that roads were closing. So were schools, mine among them.
I lit the candles that she made me buy in bulk when they were on sale even though we have no place to store them.
When she told me to go get that fondue pot she picked out at the thrift shop last July, I reminded her that we had no gel fuel for it. She told me to look in the cupboard by the fridge.
And then directed me to set it up on the pizza stone in the kitchen where it would be safe to heat water for our coffee.
As I drank my morning brew, she began whispering in my ear again. Now she was talking about eggs. I explained that we could not cook eggs today because we were in a Very Serious Crisis That Only Allows Us To Eat Crackers All Day. She begged to differ and referred me to that website she found a while back. She'd read it to me but I wasn't listening at the time because who wants to think about cooking eggs in the dark? Apparently HM does and she remembered every word.
So we had eggs with sweet yellow peppers, cheddar cheese and the last of the cooked pork that wasn't enough for a meal but just enough for eggs.
Once breakfast was done, HM directed me to wash up the dishes (so we wouldn't die from rampant bacteria) and then triple check the gel fuel to make sure it was extinguished. (Actually, we checked it many, many times but she will only admit to three...) Finally, she made me set up a cooler to chill down all those sodas she wanted me to put in the fridge yesterday because she knew this was going to happen but did I listen to her? Nooooo....
Then she allowed me to sit down and knit for a while. This was something of a relief since HM can be exhausting when she is full-on Disaster Mode. She did, however, chastise me hourly for not charging the Blackberry before bedtime because we were really wearing down the battery every time we needed to check in on the progress of the disaster.
Around mid-morning, the power came back on. And it stayed on. I was able to watch TV and take a shower and make coffee...all the "normal" stuff. HM started to fade away as hysterical thoughts will often do when the lights are on. Rational Mind started taking credit for our morning because it all looks very rational and responsible when a person has the supplies to deal with flooding and high winds. RM and I sat back and watched reports on how others fared in this storm with an almost smug attitude because we'd thought ahead. How very rational of us!
But, deep down, I know otherwise. And even if I didn't, I'd still have that little voice nagging away in the back of my head. The one that tells me to buy a fondue pot in July because it would be handy to have someday. Or remembers to get gel fuel and sees the potential in a pile of discount candles. It's the voice that trumps Rational Mind while she's screaming about how we are out of cupboard space. And sometimes it's the voice that says:
I told you so.