{ Saturday, December 21, 2002 }

The Darkest night of the Year.

(or The Twelve Steps of Solstice)

Happy Solstice!

So, I have an irrational fear of basements. Tonight one of the fuses blew... television, microwave, space heater, and blender all at once is too much for the poor fuse.

Waste and I spent a long time when he was here looking for the fuse box cause the light in the laundry room wasn't working. We never did find it. Recently when the landlord was here, he fixed the light. When he turned off the power to it, I learned that the fuse box is in the basement.

Last night there was suspicion that a fuse had blown, but it turned out that Emma had left the room and Ellie had turned everything off to go to bed. Emma came back in the room and thought the fuse had blown. But this time, it was for real. I watched it all shut off.

I moved the baker's rack from in front of the door and took a minute to reflect on the fact that it's the only present my dad ever gave me that I still have. Then I remembered that he gave me some of my animal figurines (I used to collect them. I guess I never stopped, but people have stopped giving them to me for the last ten years or so), but I couldn't remember which ones. I briefly considered leaving the fuse blown to go get my boxes of figurines out and see if I couldn't summon up a teary Christmas or birthday memory or two.

Instead, I finished moving the baker's rack and opened the door. I went down one step to reach the light switch. The light was out. Fuck. It must be on that same damned fuse.

I spent some time contemplating the appropriateness of the dark basement on Solstice. I made a sandwhich and ate it before I went looking for the flashlight. I found a flashlight and walked down two of the steps. Then I started shining the light around looking for the box. I didn't want to be wandering aimlessly in the basement in the dark.

The actual part of the basement that isn't crawl space is probably 12x12. I do realise that "aimlessly wandering" isn't really an option down there, but I just wanted to know where I was headed.

I didn't see the fuse box. I came back upstairs. I considered calling someone else to go change the fuse.

Okay, truth be told, I called Writer Guy, but I couldn't bring myself to ask him to come over and flip a breaker for me. I mean, I knew I could do it. Well, if I could get myself into the basement, I could do it. It's a pretty sad little request there "Can you interrupt whatever it is you're doing and come out in the cold over here and walk down into the basement and push a button for me? Yes, my legs do work and I do know how to push the button. No, there's no reason I can't do it... except I'm afraid of the basement." I couldn't bring myself to ask.

I got off the phone without mentioning why I had called. And I went back to the steps. This time I made it about three steps down. Then I hit my head on the ceiling, I jumped, my hair was caught. I screamed and ran back up the stairs.

I spent some time wondering if I couldn't just leave the fuse blown until morning. Then I remembered that I do live with other people and I blew the damned fuse, I ought to fix it. Plus, it's the longest night of the year. I kept reminding myself there was no good reason not to go down there.

This time I took the cat with me. One twelve pound ball of orange fur was going to save me from whatever the hell I thought was going to get me in the basement. The cat and I made it down four steps, but then he started squirming and jumped from my hands and ran back upstairs. I (obviously) followed him.

I spent a few minutes rationalizing that the cat's keen senses told him not to go down there and I shouldn't question animal instinct. Then I visualized myself explaining to people that the television and microwave weren't working because I was too chickenshit to go into the basement by myself. I had to go down there.

At five steps, I crouched down and shone the light around again. I saw the fuse box. I considered this a victory and went upstairs to smoke a victory cigarette and plan my route the few feet across the basement I was going to have to walk.

The next time I went down there, I managed to get down six steps and then I thought I saw something move. I came back upstairs.

I couldn't figure out exactly what I thought anyone else was going to be able to do about the "something possibly moving" in the basement. I was going to have to go back down there. I was taking the cat though.

I got the cat and down all seven steps we went. Flashlight and cat left no hand free for flipping the switch. Nothing was moving. Back up we went.

I deposited the cat upstairs. Except I didn't shut the door because I was too scared to do that. This time I made it down the steps and one step into the basement when I heard the cat coming down the stairs. The idea of trying to get my cat out of the crawl space made me run back up and grab the cat and put him outside.

The next time I went down there, I managed to walk down all seven steps and take five steps across the floor and flip the breaker that had gone and make it back upstairs.

I really feel like I accomplished something there.

posted by mary ann 6:08 PM