it’s just stuff. it’s just stuff. if it all burns down, it can be replaced.
it’s just stuff.
that’s what i’ve kept telling myself over the course of the past 24 hours. actually only about 12 hours. it’s crazy what can happen in an instant. when the cocos fire (which is certainly going under an identity crisis -it was first the washiontonian fire, now “cocos” just makes me think of the popular restaurant chain i used to go to every sunday with my grandparents growing up) was first announced yesterday, i was two minutes away from walking into a membership meeting. i took my phone with me just in case, unsure if i’d need to get a hold of someone, or better yet, if someone would need to get a hold of me.
at 4:30 p.m., something told me to check my phone. it was then that i realized the gravity of the situation. i had dozens of text messages and missed calls. apparently the fire was dangerously close to my housing community. i excused myself and called my mom who was already on the way back from my condo. bless her heart, she had raced over to save anything that she deemed important -my laptop, my nook, my packed suitcase for nashville, my brand new madewell dress (i may have told her to save that in a previous correspondence, i just bought it and it’s so fabulous), some barre clothes, and of course, a ton of underwear (let’s be honest, you can never have too much of that). i could tell she was doing her best to keep her voice level as she explained to me the situation. i knew she knew if she sounded panicked, i would begin to panic, too. my heart started beating audibly in my chest. i tried desperately to take deep breaths and restrain the tears. i still had to finish out my meeting and make it through the subsequent new member orientation presentation, i had to hold it together. i told myself that there was nothing i could do to help or hinder the situation. and at the end of the day, i was safer at work than anywhere else.
it’s just stuff, i reminded myself.
i went on with the rest of my evening meetings, trying to hide my clear unrest. in any event, the fact that i was wearing a tutu was a great icebreaker.
the freeway was a ghost town when i finally made it to the the 5 at 6:15 p.m. while i drove, i called sistah, who had texted me earlier to see if i was okay. as i drove toward the horizon line, which was now painted fifty shades of gray, she commended me on my composure. it was in that moment i realized the truth behind that whole “ignorance is bliss” mentality. i had been sequestered from the news for the past two hours so i honestly had no idea what the status of the cocos fire was at that point in time. so when you don’t know if your house is in danger, you can’t really be upset about it.
i arrived to my parents house and in walking through the door, threw down my purse and immediately collapsed into my momma’s arms. she hugged me tightly. i have never been more thankful of the proximity of their house to mine. i changed into jeans and toppie and i went out to pick up dinner while mom stayed home to keep up on the news. though it was well past my regular dinner time, i had zero appetite. i guess that’s how you know you’re not okay. or at least how i know i’m not okay. even vegetables from my favorite take-out place didn’t sound appetizing.
we sat huddled on the couch for the rest of the evening, glued to the tv. text messages and well wishes continued to pour in from friends and family. while they couldn’t erase the ever-growing pit in my stomach, every single note of concern made my heart smile. if you’ve ever doubted the love and support you have in your life, just wait for a natural disaster. i have never seen more people come out of the wood-work to offer up their prayers and their guest bedrooms. it was so touching. kind of like when people you haven’t talked to in years wish you happy birthday on facebook because they received a notification that it was your special day. you don’t care that facebook had to remind them, you just appreciate the sentiment behind it. you feel the love regardless of how it was initiated.
then the image turned to an anchor reporting live on location. i immediately recognized the street where he was standing. that was my community. just a few streets up from my house.
i feel kind of like a baby for saying this, considering the fact that the carlsbad fire came a lot closer to some of my friends’ residences and those poor three families even lost their homes, but that moment was the turning point for me. i have driven that road countless times before. i have passed that fire station, lost reception down that hill, watched the sun set from its peak. it all just felt really real. i’ve grown up with fires and earthquakes my entire life. it’s part of the added bonus of living in southern california. but even when we were evacuated in 2007 for the witch creek fire, it hadn’t felt as real as it did in that moment. i could very well lose the rest of my belongings. and my home.
i knew that if i felt this unsettled, there was no way i could leave for four days to take off to tennessee. as sad as it was for me to decide to cancel my trip, i knew that i would be in no mindset to truly enjoy my time away. so i texted B to let her know the news and jumped on southwest.com to cancel the flight. luckily southwest appeases change of hearts pretty well. and B completely understood (because she’s the best friendie ever). i felt a little better knowing i would be close by if anything took a turn for the worse, but thankfully by the time we finally went to bed, the winds seemed to be blowing the flames in the opposite direction of my neighborhood.
so thanks to momma, i didn’t have to go to work naked this morning (i’m fairly certain that’s against club policy). despite everything, i managed to look half-way decent. i’m wearing a white tee, my new madewell black eyelet skirt (that i had conveniently packed for nashville), and my red and blue polka dot flats. i haven’t washed my hair in five days, but it doesn’t look so bad pulled back in a pony tail. i’m calling this look “evacuation chic” and someone just told me i look really pretty today so maybe i’m onto something after all.
the roads around my home are still closed and the fire is only 5% contained, though the winds seem to be keeping everything in my favor. thankfully manpower that was tied up battling the carlsbad fire (which is, praise the Lord, 60% contained as of now) has been redirected to focus on the cocos fire.
we may be a city of upwards of one million people, but one of the things i love most about san diego is how when one of us suffers, we all suffer. we are a big city with a small town heart. it makes me so proud to call this place home. furthermore, it makes me so thankful that we have a fire fighting community so dedicated to keeping our city safe. i am in awe of their willingness to put themselves in the line of fire, literally, to protect our homes, which at the end of the day, are simply nothing more than material items that can easily be replaced.
it kind of all puts things in perspective, you know? it’s just stuff –the very mantra i’ve been telling myself for the past 24 hours should really become my mantra for life.
anyway, i want to tell you that i’m okay. i’m more than okay, in fact, i’m safe and being well taken care of at my parents’ house. i also have enough underwear to sustain me for at least a week, so that’s awesome, too.
i want to thank every single one of you who has shown your love and concern through text and email and facebook. as BL so eloquently put it yesterday, i have an army of support around me. and i truly believe that, too. things might look a little differently around here for a while. for one, i don’t have much outfit options at the moment so my daily outfit posts might just be this black eyelet skirt on rotation with one of the three tops i have packed. but aside from that, i don’t have much to say. just keep praying the winds die down and that the heat subsides. pray for the firefighters’ health and strength and for their own families, too. pray for our precious city, y’all.
i love and appreciate you more than you know.
p.s. it has also become abundantly clear that it’s high time i move to the coast.