On Thursday, December 20th 2012 at 9:45pm, I thought the apocalypse had come.
At 9:30pm, the lights in my house started to dim and weaken, about 15 seconds later the power went out completely. It was a cloudy night, but there weren't any heavy winds or rain, so I wasn't expecting something like this to happen. I look out my front door towards my neighbors who have a massive christmas lights dispaly in their front yard, and now all I see is darkness. My dinner was still in the oven, no longer cooking, so I said to my wife "our street lost power, maybe we can go get some takeout."
I look out my backyard where I have a few hundred feet of forest. During the winter when the trees are bare you can see through the woods and get a glimpse of lights from houses in another neighborhood that we are living against back-to-back. The people through the woods did not have power either, and the strange thing is that they live on another power grid, and in the three years I've lived here I have never seen those people lose power as the same time as I have. I went outside and could not see the nearby city lights on the horizon.
This was a huge power outage.
I went inside and locked the doors. As I made the rounds through my house, lighting every candle and finding all of my flashlights, I heard increasing number of sirens from emergency vehicles in the distance.
Roughly 15 minutes after the power outage began, I was looking out a window towards my backyard. Gazing into the darkness, I suddenly saw l lightning on the horizon. It was a cloudy night so the lightning filled the entire sky, kind of like heat lightning in the summer. Also the lighting was green. And it kept going. For 10 full seconds, the lighting was flashing green through the sky longer than any lightning I've ever seen. Was this a transformer exploding? Was this the northern lights? Is someone setting off fireworks? The lights continued in the sky for another 30 seconds; it was clear that this was not lightning and I had no explanation for it. The lights got brighter and changed color, now the lightning was showing flashes of blue, green, white, and red. A minute went by with these lights still going, filling the entire sky. I said out loud "holy shit, is this 2012 end of the world? is it really happening?".
After a minute the lights stopped and everything was dark again, I continued to hear sirens in the distance. I went to find my cell phone to call my parents. I had no service. Is something terrible actually happening? Is the world ending? I couldn't explain any of it. My thoughts turned to fantasies about a foreign powers starting a war or an alien race attacking. If I was an alien race attacking earth, I would instantly cut off all power and communications, then bomb all major cities. Quick and easy, no more Earth.
I was hoping that I would be able to laugh it off in the morning, and this was totally no big deal. I spent the next hour wondering "what if this is really it". This is kind of how the movies show the end of the world. The characters will laugh it off as no big deal, and as the viewer you can appreciate the dramatic irony that the characters are in deep trouble. "LOL, THAT'S NOT AN EARTHQUAKE WILL SMITH!"
I was overcome with anxiety. I filled our bathtub with water, and also filled every large bowl of water in our house. I did an inventory of all of my canned food supplies. What if I could never go to the grocery store again? How much gas is in my car? Will I ever see my family again?
Well, the world didn't end. I spent about an hour living a very realistic apocalypse fantasy. It turns out there was a massive fire at a power substation. Even with the explanation the lights in the sky were still terrifying, especially with all of the Mayan end-of-the-world talk. Here's a youtube video that someone captured of the event.
I'm very glad the world didn't end, but I can also now appreciate the stress and terror from knowing it's possible that the end of the world is actually happening.
Have a happy 22nd of December and a wonderful holiday! I'll be back in 2013!