Fast forward a week or two.
I was lying in bed one night watching a DVD, Michael dozing lightly beside me, when it occurred to me out of the blue that our brand new cisterns were positioned not only directly over our bedroom but squarely over my side of the bed.
If the roof collapsed I’d be crushed to death in an instant. And it wouldn’t be a softly-lit death scene with violins and pretty speeches—I’d be flattened like a doormat.
This image, which I decided not to share with Michael, kept me wide awake and focused on our bedroom ceiling with laser-like intensity for several evenings.
My mind raced through a top ten parade of disaster scenarios, the most vivid of which involved a thick slab of concrete buckling over my head and tumbling downward with a cataclysmic crash onto my slumbering cranium.
Occasionally I would drop off only to wake up in a cold sweat. Destruction, I was certain, lurked just above me.
Not to mention the fact that the 500 thread-count sheet set I’d chosen with such loving care would be completely ruined.
I tried to reason with myself, an exercise that invariably sounds more feasible on paper than in practice. To be honest, if I’ve reached the point where I need to reason with myself, I’ve progressed beyond the cozy realm of reason into some fuzzy purgatory of paranoia.
I considered creeping into the living room or to one of the bedrooms downstairs but decided against it, mainly because explanations would be required the next morning and frankly I wasn’t up to explaining anything.
I was too exhausted.
But soon I was able to experience our new cisterns in all their glory.
The following week Michael’s sister Maria and her friend Cheryl came down for a visit, giddily enjoying a break from the joys of motherhood (both have young children).
Everything was peachy.
Until…Maria decided to wash her hair.
There she was in the downstairs shower, lathering away, gazing wistfully down our hill toward the ocean, when—guess what?
The water shut off.
Cheryl, napping in the next room, heard Maria’s cry of distress and came running to her friend’s rescue. Within a couple of minutes Cheryl was bounding up the stairs to tell us the big news.
Unfortunately Michael wasn’t home—he’d gone to the hardware store to pick up some garden-related gadget or other.
“Maria’s in the shower and there’s no water,” Cheryl blurted out as soon as I heard her call and emerged from the bedroom.
How embarrassing, I thought. And then of course it hit me: I can fix that.
“No problem,” I answered, turning on my heel and heading toward the back wall of the great room with a glorious sense of purpose. With a flourish, I flicked on the hideous red switch.
There followed a gigantic, primal gurgling belch—and then the sound of coursing water,
“Oh, thank you!!” Maria screamed from downstairs.
“We have a cistern,” I remarked casually to Cheryl. “In fact, we have two.”
“What’s a cistern?” Cheryl asked.
“Smart move,” she commented admiringly.
“Thanks,” I gloated, all but patting myself on the back.
“Frankly, I sleep better at night just knowing they’re there.”