Tuesday, November 06, 2012

you only have a few seconds to decide what to save

A few months ago where we live, they replaced the smoke detectors in each unit and the alarms in the public areas. This building is old; I'd guess it was built in the '60s. But these are some fancy-pants alarms, the kind that can cause headaches at best and hearing loss at worst. And the other night while Jon was watching the Lakers wipe the floor with Detroit, that alarm went off. It was so loud my ear canals began to throb after just 30 seconds.

Full disclosure: I burnt some toast or something awhile back and set off the alarm, but Jon was able to disarm it after a few seconds. This time, it kept blaring and blaring. Jon didn't budge from the couch.

I started pacing. I'm superstitious and paranoid, and my mind began to swirl with visions of the apartment below being engulfed in flames and how we were about to fall through the floor to our deaths. After a few minutes of my worrying, Jon agreed to go outside with me and sit in the car until the drama was over. I would have kept at it, because there was no way I would have left him to burn alone.

We had on our coats and our hats, grabbed our phones and our wallets, and were headed to the door when I took a glace back into the apartment. So much stuff that I love: Books and cherished cards, gadgets. My beloved couch. And the photographs, oh the photographs! If the place truly was burning to the ground, what would I be able to save?

In the end I made sure I had on my engagement (a family heirloom) and wedding rings and took a shoebox full of old black-and-white photos from the Motherland that I've been meaning to scan. But I had a sick feeling about potentially leaving the rest of my life to burn.

There was no fire. Three trucks full of professionals showed up to say that someone had triggered the alarm near the outside entrance--we're willing to bet it was a smoker who didn't want to go stand in the cold. People were clutching their animals, huddled in blankets taken from their sofas and covering their ears to block out that insane alarm. And then it stopped. We all trudged back to our apartments. I ran my hand over the cool leather of the couch, thankful it hadn't been reduced to a charred pile of ash.

For a second, I had to imagine losing everything. Unfortunately, it happens to people all the time. And thanks to Hurricane Sandy, some on the Eastern Seaboard actually have lost everything recently. It must be so horrible to see places you love decimated or simply swept away. I had really been hoping it would turn out to be closer to Irene than Katrina. And now they are bracing themselves for another storm.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all who have been affected by this storm.
How we can help


Ale said...

after moving so many times, i've developed this attitude of simply not owning anything that i'd be afraid to loose. so yes, the hairloom rings would be the only thing to take. though now that you mention it i should scan the black and white photos from albums at my Dad's house. Though his friends don't think he is crazy anymore for insisting on buying the house on a hill....

cadiz12 said...

So glad he has a house on the hill!! They are doing ok, right?

Guyana-Gyal said...

Don't laugh...I sleep with my manuscript which has all my pencilled in corrections, and my handbag which keeps a flash-drive or 2.

And next to my bed is a fire-extinguisher.

cadiz12 said...

i always knew you were a smart woman, gg.

Jon said...

I only worry about the things that can't be replaced. I try to back everything up online so only my gadgets are lost, not the data that makes them so amazing.

You know my stance on the pictures...