Six years ago tomorrow, I was driving a rented Budget 15-foot truck across Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. My co-worker/building mate Jen, who was also moving to LA and whose stuff occupied half the truck, drove her brand new Mitsubishi convertible along with me.
We’d left Chicago at 6 in the morning to avoid the rush hour traffic, and we were making pretty good time. All those states being relatively flat, the truck could go about 75 or 80, and Jen could take her car out a couple miles at ridiculous speeds, then slow down and wait for me to catch up.
We had a set of little walkie talkies we could use to communicate with each other over a distance of about four miles, and we’d use them to try and time food, gas, and bathroom breaks.
We actually made it all the way across Nebraska. We’d started so early and the sun stayed up so late that even when we got to our “It would be great if we got to…” point of Sidney, Nebraska, we decided to go on to the next exit at Kimball, putting us spitting distance from Wyoming.
When we got to Kimball, I went to call my anal-retentive parents and let them know we’d arrived in one piece, and I couldn’t get my mom, who was in D.C., on the phone because the circuits were overloaded.
I can’t remember if we just happened to turn on the TV or if my dad told us about it when I called him in Atlanta, but that’s when we found out what was happening on most of the East Coast that day: A fucking gigantic blackout.
I don’t remember why I wasn’t listening to the radio – something in the back of my mind tells me I’d managed to hook some speakers up to a portable CD player, this being the dark ages before I had an iPod, but long after I’d given up finding any radio worth listening to on cross-country drives.
I did somehow manage to get a blog post up that night, maybe off the hotel’s computer, but it sheds little light on what the hell happened, and it raises the question of what election I’m talking about, because I have absolutely no idea.
It’s weird to me to see pictures of it now, because I was so wrapped up in the process of moving that I really don’t remember that story the way I do most big news stories. I was detached from the internet and the news, detached from the world in a way I rarely am anymore, and certainly wouldn’t be if I were making the same move today.
I was reminded of the date by a website that linked to someone’s tweet about their blog post about the blackout, and went down a minor internet rabbit hole remembering, and often learning, what happened that day.