This morning the electricity cut out at my home in Sydney. I didn’t realise it at first. I thought that the lightbulb had just blown.
After flicking the switch on and off a few times, I ventured into the bathroom with the light from my iPhone. It was while I was in the bathroom that my boyfriend, having just left the house to head to his community services course, messaged me and told me there was a problem with the electricity.
As I walked to my bedroom and tried turning on the light, I felt elated not to see brightness come. My boyfriend was right; the electricity had cut out. And I was excited about it.
Why in the world would you be excited, I am sure you are wondering. Well, having lived in Cambodia for over five years, I had grown used to not have access to electricity. My first big blackout was in 2011, a couple of weeks after I had arrived in the country. For five days, we didn’t have power. I showered in cold water, ate dinner by candlelight and took frequent trips to a cafe with a generator so I could charge my laptop and phone. But that was only the start of things.
Over the next five years, the electricity would cut out for minutes, hours or days at a time. In my last apartment, the electricity cut out six times a day, on average. Cambodia has a very unstable source of electricity, and when combined with overusage in the tourist town of Siem Reap, this often spelt disaster.
I became used to it. I always kept my laptop and phone charged (a bad habit, I know), so that I could still work for a few hours without heading somewhere with a generator. I kept a large container aside with water so we could still ‘shower’, flush the toilet and wash the dishes without the electricity. I became skilled at the art of only using a gas stove to make meals.
So today when the electricity cut out in Sydney, I didn’t freak out like other Sydneysiders tend to do. I jumped back into bed, turned on my fully charged laptop and hotspotted the wifi from my fully charged phone. Then I chilled out in bed, hoping this blackout could last just a bit longer. Because it is okay to be without electricity for a few hours. It can be….peaceful.