Zarah Parker

Zarah Parker

There’s something very post-apocalyptic about walking down the empty aisles of grocery stores.

After last week’s freeze, when I visited a store last Saturday, there was hardly anything worth grabbing. Even though technically the worst of the event was over, seeing empty shelves felt eerie. Much like how the shelves were at the start of the pandemic last March.

Like for every Houstonian, the week of the freeze was a startling experience for me. I’ve hunkered down during hurricanes my whole life, and yet I’ve never felt more jarred than spending half of the week without electricity, running water and the inability to cook normally.

I will go ahead and mention that on Feb. 17, late in the day my family and I pulled a Ted Cruz, just not as extreme, and got out of Houston. We stayed in a hotel in Bryan, where the snow didn’t melt until Friday but we were able to take showers.

Still, the glimpses I did have — and am still seeing as my house won’t have hot water for at least another week — made me more thankful than ever for modern amenities, like indoor plumping when the water runs.

There’s an old hymn called “Count Your Blessings,” and last week much of Texas was face-to-face with all the blessings we never really thought about because they were already such a part of our everyday lives, like electricity. The night I spent without electricity, I could almost see my breath even with piles of blankets.

I know people had it worse than I did, but at the end of the day I think we can all look back and be thankful for the things we don’t often think to be thankful for.

This is especially true when it comes to food and water. When the boil water notice went out last Wednesday, Feb. 17, it worried me. I wasn’t sure how long it would last, and I knew bottled water would be hard to come by. Since the notice was lifted last Sunday, I can’t help but think about how blessed we are to have water so easily accessible.

I mean, people used to have to carry water to their house from the river, or bring it out of a well. There’s people still alive who lived this way, and there’s people in different parts of the world who live that way. But when is the last time you looked at your faucet and were thankful that when you turned the knob, it worked?

Probably last Friday or Saturday, if I had to guess. But before then? I would say not often. Going forward, I think recognizing these seemingly small things as blessings will be good for us.

When it came to food supply, last week my house wasn’t the best prepared. Even with the warnings, I definitely didn’t think it would be nearly as bad as it was and I definitely didn’t think it would last much of the week.

I’m pretty sure there was a day last week when I survived mostly on snacks, like chips and donuts. I knew I would be fine. I was mostly worried about my dad, who is diabetic. Without the right food, or a way to prepare it correctly, things could have gone south pretty easily.

So, I’m thankful for a gas stove, on which we made spaghetti one night. Later that same night I learned that trying to wash dishes with water collected in the tub is just plain awful.

One thing I did love to see last week was the selflessness of neighbors helping neighbors, even though they themselves weren’t in the best position.

But that’s easy to be thankful for.

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