September is the month to rearrange; wardrobes, patio furnishings, and thermostats. Heaters go upstairs, fans go downstairs, down blankets are released from plastic zip lock bags, and coverlets are removed. We seal the windows with weather stripping and my list notebook follows me everywhere. If you live in the seasons then you understand that the menial work goes deeper as our bodies prepare for winter’s residency.
The interior change, what Anais Nin refers to as; ‘our emotional landscape,’ wakes to a chime of awareness. Now that I’ve completed all those mindless tasks, I’m ready to listen to the chime and renew the organism of emotion. On this brilliant film shooting day in September shadows of light, glaring light, brush the feathers of my wild birds as they tap dance from tree branch to feeder. Between the leaves that drop like confetti from the trees, the New Mexican sunlight feels like ten thousand flashlights in your face.
Summers postcard days flash on and off as I write; Natives dancing at the Plaza in the wildness of fiesta to Latin and Mexican music, while Anglos freestyle a sort of slow rock and roll hippie dance. I meet strangers and we exchange our exaggerated cheer and humor, during festivals, fiesta parades, and the burning of Zozobra. These yearly events chisel the face of Santa Fe into a collage of New Mexico colors; magenta, orange, lime, and yellow surface on paper Mache flowers, streamers, and costumes.
The phantasmagoria of my summer thumped one night in July during a Monsoon thunderstorm. My summer vacation rental guests were in the main house and I was in my casita sitting at the desk writing, with the door open. It was pouring rain, the kind of shower that explodes from the rain gutters like a tub faucet and those huge blue and white La Posada Hotel umbrellas seemed race up the street unattended. When the skirmish between warm air and thunderstorm collided, lightning seared the charcoal clouds and thunder bombed me out of my swivel chair.
How rigid my body felt; like hardened cement, but the phone rang and released me from this state of shock.
“ LouLou, I think we have some issues in your house.”
I rushed over in my kimono (a writing uniform) and found the three of them stiff as statues. Young headlight deer eyes, all piercing me at once.
“ We saw sparks, and all the electricity is out. I think the lightning hit your house. ”
I didn’t’t know what to say; suddenly I was responsible for this rarity of nature’s behavior. They clung to their cell phones, and watched as I feigned authority and calm by checking the blackened outlets. The electronics were silenced, appliances deadened, circuit breaker inoperable. I called my friend, White Zen, who doesn’t fluster easily.
“I have to get help now. Right now! What should I do?”
“I’ll call my electrician. He’s really good. Are you all right?”
“No, not at all right.”
“You want me to come over?”
“No, but thanks anyway.”
A few moments later, she called back.
“ I pulled Phil out of Smiths Grocery. He’s on his way, she said with humor, enough to release a molecule of laughter from me.
“ I can’t believe this. Do you know the chances of being hit by lightning?”
“ No, but don’t take it personally.”
The funny thing is, I did. Other house disasters; like the time the plumbing backed up, or the historic windows wouldn’t’close didn’t’t have any comparison to this cataclysm. Then my next door neighbor, the Architect, and professor of all topics informed me, “ Oh you’re in bad shape; you’re going to have to rewire the whole house.”
Phil arrived within ten minutes, and I greeted him with a hug, more for support of someone’s appearance with tools than anything.While my quests and I tried to answer his questions, all of us at once, he went down to the basement, as we followed behind. Phil replaced something in the circuit breaker, and the lights came back on. I clapped my hands but they didn’t’t join in; they went back to texting.
Then he tried the TV and stereo. The stereo is fried he said, but the television is okay.
“What about our Wi Fi connection?” I asked.
“The surge protector fried too. You have to call your provider. Good luck on that. I’ll come back tomorrow, after you get PNM (City Electric) out here to check which panel.”
“Which panel what?” I said.
He went into a Wikipedia explanation about the two hundred and fortyhouse voltage, and who is responsible for the outage. I followed Phil outside after failing to soft stroke my tenants. What made it even worse is they are musicians with the Santa Fe Opera and live sensitive structured lives. One gal remained board stiff and and unblinking, the young man offered all of his technical support but his hands were trembling. The leader of the pack, who greets life with radiant optimism, was busy eating crackers in rapid succession. I felt the responsibility of a mother, and so I assured them of my competence. Then I slipped into jeans and T-Shirt, almost falling over as I raced across the street to La Posada and gulped a Martini. While I was still trembling, staff and guests gathered around me.
The concierge said, “The lightning hit your house; I saw it from the window! Are you all right?”
“ On no, a bar guest remarked and rubbed my back, ‘Oh Loulou, something always happens when you have guests, a waitress commented, and another broke out in a euphoric smile and said, Wow LouLou! What was it like?”
“Ahhh. It’s not a humor story Ed; it’s a disaster!”
The electrical company showed up late that night, and poked little metal toothpicks into a box outdoors; a box I didn’t’t know existed.
“Sorry Mam. Our panel is working fine. You’ll have to get the electrician to make further repairs. Wow! That lightning sure hit hard. Have a nice night. ” Ha Ha, I said and stumbled into my room. No Internet, no television and no music. I slept with a pillow over my head.
The next day Phil returned to trouble shoot everything. My television and the house stereo blew out, so did the surge protector to our modem, and the electronic gate was broken. The guests couldn’t get their cars out of the driveway. We pried the gate open, and they backed out in jerky anxious motion.
A week later, in between substantial attempts to behave normally, all of us were still irritable, prone to trip, biting nails, and voices wavering over the tenseness that clipped our tongues. It was never the same after that; our simpatico shared residency turned into staged friendliness.
That’s the thing about lightning, it gets inside of you, and you are involuntarily rearranged. My emotional landscape is naturally in a state of alarm. I startle easily, imagine voices, and see too much in the dark.
Too be continued.