May 4th, 2007



Sometime around four this morning, the power went out in south Oberlin. I took it as a sign from God to stop playing Counter-Strike with the econ majors and go home.

Light. It's funny how much we take it for granted. We peer through darkened storefronts at sleeping desks and bookshelves and we think good God, it's dark. But there's always light in Oberlin--the welcoming glow of the Feve sign, the cold phosphorescence of the hardware store. This morning it was truly dark. There were flickering streetlights and cop sirens, and when a Safety and Security car came by with its high beams it consumed everything in a blind glare, like a flashlight in a closet. But there was nothing else. Even the sound was dark.

I could barely find downtown, much less recognize it--it was as if the town were dead, not sleeping. And it was walking past the familiar angles of the bookstore, of the looming monolith of the Rax, that I realized that it is the light that makes these places ours. Without light, they are merely things in the dark--stumps in the forest, or stones in the desert. What's more: without human presence, a town is an occupied ruin. There is no such thing as Going Inside, because everything is outdoors. Jake Brody Was Here (and he Huffed Mad Dong, long ago).

Walking home in the moonlight--didn't even recognize my house. The moon--even full, it shines so faintly. Not blue, like in the movies, but the color of shadows. Turned the knob in the dark. Brushed my teeth in the dark. Turned out the light as I climbed into bed, only to remember it was already off.

What are you still doing here? the darkness seemed to say. Haven't you noticed that the world is over?

Fuck you, I said to it. Living in denial gives me a place to sleep.

And I did not sleep for a long, long time.
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