Yesterday I was sitting in my pajamas and listening to my favorite song, All Too Well by Taylor Swift. It’s a song about looking back on the happy moments of a relationship that has ended. My favorite line goes like this: “There we are again in the middle of the night / Dancing around the kitchen in the refrigerator light.”
I leaned over to nudge my boyfriend, who was in our bed beside me. “Can we do that?”
“Dance around the kitchen in the refrigerator light.”
“Oh.” He frowned. “Isn’t that a waste of electricity?”
He was right, of course. In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which swept through our Florida town on September 10th, 2017, our tiny apartment lost power for eight days. So many things that I took for granted—lights, air conditioning, my phone, hot meals, the Internet—were gone. And now, less than a week after our electricity returned, I was taking it for granted again.
It’s funny that my boyfriend was the one to call me out. He is not exactly a champion of the environment; he’s known for falling asleep with the bedroom lights on and letting his car idle for hours at a time. But our week without electricity must have left some impression on him, because we did not dance around the kitchen in the refrigerator light last night.
People don’t appreciate what they have until it’s taken away from them, but even more heartbreaking than that is the way people forget to appreciate what they have once it’s returned to them. I’m sorry, Tomorrow, that I’m more wasteful than I could be. I’m sorry for my long showers and my road trips in gas-guzzlers and my all-nighters with lamps instead of candles. I’m sorry on behalf of the climate change deniers and the refrigerator light dancers.
I’m going to change my habits as much as I can in order to make sure that when you arrive, Tomorrow, you will be more beautiful, healthy, and sustainable than today. I’m going to stop wasting water, gas, and electricity. I’m going to stop buying plastic water bottles, and I’m going to rescue the ones sitting in my trash can and recycle them instead. I’m going to use my voice to advocate for change in my community.
And maybe I’m going to pick a new favorite song.