Looking at the sun…

The warmth of the sun enveloping my face is a simple pleasure I don’t take for granted. So often we’re running here and there. Being in the moment seems a guilty pleasure in a culture where value in doing nothing is bankrupt. Michael knew this, and that’s why I think of him every time I stop, close my eyes, and get lost in a sunset, or a sunrise, or any time I’m just drinking up the sun’s warm glow.

On my walk last night I thought about the power outage that shutdown a good part of the northeast, midwest, and even parts of Canada during the summer of 2003. Back then, the New York Times reported it as the largest blackout in American history. I imagine that’s still the case, not recalling another one of its ilk since then.

I was managing a bakery & restaurant in Tribeca at the time. Isabella was only three months old, at home with my mother. Michael was at his office in Chelsea, on 20th street and Sixth Avenue. We were in luck because we still had a real landline. Not the kind of false sense of security today’s cable phone lines provide—by now you realize these are useless in a power outage. Michael’s parents were deaf, so we always had a landline in the event of an emergency so we could reach them via the TTY machine.

Once Michael called my mom, and confirmed she and Isabella were okay, he made the two mile trek down to me. I didn’t know that, though. With no way of getting in touch with him, I was worried, but I was also in crisis mode at the restaurant. As the general manager, it was my responsibility to make sure everyone had a way home. Home for me would come once the rest of my staff was safely on their way. When he walked through the door of the restaurant, I was stunned, relieved, and realized how much I meant to him.

I was his person. He was mine.

It took an epic blackout for me to realize that.

He didn’t think twice. Coming to get me, and make sure I got home safely was beyond a priority—it was a reflex, the most natural thing in the world for him to do.

The Brooklyn Bridge was too crowded—it would take forever to make our way home, walking being the option since traffic was at a standstill, and trains weren’t running. We backtracked to the Manhattan Bridge, a more manageable flow of foot traffic, reaching for each other’s hands every now and again so we wouldn’t get separated.

It sounds like the end of the world, but of course it wasn’t. It was just the biggest, widespread blackout in American history that left us without power for a couple of days. The news these days has me thinking a lot about that day. Except, the fear of a nuclear blackout feels all too real. It’s so easy to say it won’t happen, but with two unstable leaders playing a game of chicken, it’s hard to push the “what if” from my mind.

And he’s not here. My person. My rock. It’s just me, and our daughters. I worry how I will protect them, and care for them alone if that day comes. I try to push these thoughts from my mind, only reading enough tidbits of news so as to not cause restless nights, and worry-filled days.

I try.

I’m not always successful, but I keep trying, keep breathing, and keep taking moments to appreciate sunshine on my face.

Music Pairing: Looking at the Sun by Matthew Sweet

Eight Years Ago Fried Green Tomatoes, Peach Raspberry Tart, and Trutas.

Seven Years Ago Freezer Preserved Tomatoes, Cantaloupe Cooler, Peach Blueberry Cobbler Cake, Pickled Jalapeno Watermelon Rind, and Ginger Soy Marinated Flank Steak.

Six Years Ago 60-minute Chicken Stock, Cherry Slushies, and Perfect Pancakes.

Five Years Ago Crispy Baked Eggplant, Homemade Corn Broth, and Smoky Watermelon Gazpacho.

Four Years Ago Easy Peach Jam, Peach Allspice Muffins, Lemon Blueberry Scones, and Day 742.

Three Years Ago Minty S’mores Milkshakes, Cantaloupe Sorbet, Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken, and A Clean Slate.

Two Years Ago Roasted Beet Greens, Seriously Delicious Ribs, and Homemade Vegan Ricotta.

One Year Ago No Cook Tomato Basil Sauce, Crispy Baked Kale Chips, Zucchini Oatcakes, Sweet Butter Pastry Crust, Peach Blueberry Tart, Quick Pickles, and Pork Fried Rice Salad.

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5 Comments

  • Heidi

    Your posts are everything…full of heart…loss…hope…believing…they are so touching…honest to the core..blessings to you & your girls❤️

  • Carmela Calvo

    I was widowed with 3 young children in 2008. Your posts always resonate with me. Thank you for writing so astutely about love, loss and hope. All the best to you and your girls.

  • angelitacarmelita

    I am with you sister… I do not take one sunrise or sunset for granted, nor those that mean the most to me. In this current world we live in, nothing is certain except for those things right now, at this moment. Sunrise, Sunset and those we love. For Today anyway. xoxo

  • monsoonmiss

    I’ve worked with several GMs over the years that would not have made sure everybody got home safe (ohhh, the restaurant industry), and known/dated several men that wouldn’t have done what Michael did. You’re both made from a special mold, Jennie. Thanks for sharing this story with us, and keep enjoying the sunshine!

  • Ann Fretts

    We worry too, as you write here, about how to protect our two daughters with extemporaneous comments prompting a potential nuclear clash with doomsday rhetoric flooding the news. One young woman lives in Chelsea near where Michael’s office was located, the other in Boston near us. We fear for us all. Comforted by your words of hope and pive that you shared with Michael and now with your daughters. We pray that everyine remains safe❤️

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