TL;DR: The Fire – Catharsis Attempt No. 7

It started for me on Monday, around 3:30 in the morning. I’d worked Saturday night and then stayed up 30 hours straight. I finally went to bed around 10 p.m. Sunday. I didn’t smell the smoke or see the news. I was exhausted. I was out. And then 3:30, and Mekaela was waking me because we got a call. Evacuate, it said. We did.

I lost nothing. Hot water, for a few days. Power, briefly. I wasn’t even awake at that point. I returned home mere hours after I left. I lost nothing at all.

At the shelter, the sky was split in half. It would have made for a hell of an Instagram photo, but I couldn’t take one; I’d accidentally left my phone behind while grabbing my bag. I want to describe that sky now, and I can only think of this:

“Armageddon is almost upon us.
“I’ve got news for you. It’s already here.”

It’s from Clue. Why am I like this?

They evacuated the hospital I work at. The radio reported it went up in flames. They were wrong, but we didn’t know that as we sat in my sister’s car, listening in horror. I squeezed her hand and cried.

I work every Sunday night, every single one. I didn’t work that Sunday because I was supposed to go on vacation the next day.

Can you have survivor’s guilt when no one at your job actually died?

I should have been there. I would have been useless there. There’s nothing about me, nothing, that says “good in a crisis,” and I feel like maybe I already hit my “trauma at work” quota when I watched my friend and co-worker die there years ago. But those were my nurses, my crew. I should have fucking been there.

I’ve been editing, that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been donating money, and I’ve been editing. It needs to get done. People are dead. People have lost everything. I still need to do it.

(There are missing pieces here, things I cannot tell you. Just assume a lot of anxiety, and a lot of anger. I get so goddamn angry sometimes.)

Wind bothers me now. I feel anxious when I see it: listen for sirens, Google wind speeds. I worry that I’ll watch The Happening and think it’s actually a scary movie.

Why am I like this why am I like this why am I like this?

We’re moving past the worst of it. We’re #SantaRosaStrong. We’re #SonomaCountyStrong. Our Love is Thicker Than the Smoke.

Maybe this is why the sarcastic, nerdy friend dies in horror movies. Sincerity is called for. Humor is a defense mechanism nobody wants in the aftermath of a crisis.

Here I am anyway.

3 thoughts on “TL;DR: The Fire – Catharsis Attempt No. 7

  1. I’m sorry to hear just how close to home the fire hit, literally and metaphorically.

    Sincerity is lovely and all, but it’s not like there’s only one correct way to deal with this kind of shit, and I disagree that no one wants sarcastic nerd humour in situations like this. Like if you were literally standing in the middle of a burning building, sure, nobody’s got time for quips. But the aftermath of a crisis lasts a lot longer than the crisis itself, usually, and being sincere and emotionally raw all through it has got to get exhausting. Defense mechanism or not, humour lightens the mood, and helps people feel a little closer to normal. You’re not unwanted, and you’re not useless.

    I’m glad you’re safe.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.