Indeed - it's more like... caved in, or collapsed. Verily - what used to be our apartment now looks like what happens to a tiny village hamlet when the denizens make the local dragon angry. The roof (what's left of it) looks like it was raked by giant talons, the interior mostly buried in debris, insulation, ceiling and ash. It's difficult to describe the picture that still comes to mind when I think about our apartment - two images sort of duke it out with each other for the attention of my mind's eye. One is the way it looked the night before, and all the days leading up to the fire. The other is almost like a photograph turned transparency of how it looks now - all bombed out and brutalized - placed over the first, tacked on very clumsily so it keeps sliding off. I wasn't able to get any photos of the interior, since we're not really allowed up there anymore, but here are some nifty exterior shots of the building, including our unit:
As I said in the last update, it was quite a crazy way to start the morning. Izzy had just left for work and I was groggily starting up my computer, setting up to do a new podcast and work on the strip when I heard all kinds of noise coming from outside. Let me preface this with saying that some of our (ex)neighbors are kind of jerks - I'm used to hearing what sounds like a heard of drunken, epileptic elephants run up and down the stairs outside our door, chattering at each other like over stimulated monkeys on crack at 4 in the morning. Or the same set of goofy loud-ass animals engaging in what sounds like band practice at equally ridiculous hours. This is what I thought all the ruckus was on this particular morning, just before 6 a.m. I remember thinking, "Hm, these jerks are up early... or getting home from the bars stupidly late...".
It was at this point that I had the weird tingly fore-thought to start uploading the progress I had made on Savage the night before to my drop box account (Good Lord - I could kiss the internet!). Then the voices outside started to get louder. The running got faster. The cacaphone was accompanied by frantic pounding on neighbor's doors. The first thing that came to mind was a panicked image of something so severely dark and horrible happening to Izzy on her way to work (she had just left, so she couldn't have been to far away from the apartment yet) that I won't describe it - I'll skip over the mental imagery and just say that I started throwing on my clothes in a panic to get outside and see what, if anything, was happening to her. Then the yells and screams outside started making words and stuff, like human ears expect human mouths to sometimes do. A word I heard above all the others was "Fire!".
First thing that hit at that point was tiny feeling relief, like, "Oh, ok, Izzy's ok... There's just a fire. Wait... Fire?" All the little stupid hairs on the back of my neck (and the weird ones that have been growing on my shoulders and upper arms... I need to shave) sprang to attention, and I methodically started unplugging and turning off everything electronic. I felt a gradual increase in heat in our apartment - something that can only be described, I think, if you were to ask how a biscuit or a scone feels in the oven a minute before the heat becomes too much - kinda pleasant but a little unsettling. I grabbed my keys and my phone and started for the door when I heard the weirdest sound coming from the other side. Weird, not because I've never heard it before, or I never knew what fire sounded like, but weird in that I had never heard it in this context and at this volume. The sound of a thousand pieces of paper being crumpled and crinkled is pretty weird when it's so bloody loud and coming from the other side of a door you're standing next to.
I reached for the doorknob, cautiously patting it with as little skin contact as I could before grabbing it (something I learned from TV and movies - don't want to wrap my hands around a scorching hunk of metal and wind up like that creepy German in Raiders of the Lost Ark) and opening the front door into a wall made exclusively of fire. Fire on the left, fire along the ceiling, fire on the unit across from us and fire billowing into our apartment. I'm a little creeped out at myself for not panicking just then; I sort of calmly pulled my shirt over my head and mouth, got low and cautiously made my way through the flames across the breeze way and down the first flight of stairs. I ran into a fireman and he asked me if there was anyone else with me in my apartment. I said, "No." He said, "Run." Don't have to tell me twice. So I did.
It's been just over a week since I stood in the parking lot watching our apartment building burn a few million calories. The help we've gotten from friends, family, co workers and people at the Red Cross has been unbelievable. We've been moved to tears quite a few times with how amazing and sweet everybody has been. And supportive - if anything can make you have faith in humanity it's definitely going through something like this... erm, not that I necessarily recommend it. But again, everyone who has shown us so much kindness and given so much help, I can't begin to thank enough! All the amazing people where Isabeau works have been donating clothes, the Red Cross has provided us with food money and a glasses voucher for me, friends and family have given more than we could ever ask for... So many people to thank, it's ridiculous. Even though we lost just about everything, turning 30 this past July 8th I have received one of the greatest gifts I could ever ask for: perspective.
Once we get set up in our new apartment (looks like we found one and we'll be moving in on Monday (fingers crossed)) I'll have a ton of "thank-you" muffins to bake and cards to write. And gladly.
For the time being, I've been keeping myself busy with having my phone cybernetically grafted to the side of my head, seeing as how I haven't been able to put the thing down since the 4th... today has certainly calmed down, though. We've been hanging out with our amazing neighbor (downstairs from us) in a pretty awesome hotel with his equally awesome dog (she was on the news after some super double-y awesome firefighters rescued her). They serve a free breakfast 7 days a week. I've also found that going through a crisis situation has completely broken my mostly vegan diet in half, so I'll definitely be investing in some bigger pants once we check out. My neighbor managed to save his laptop, so I'm able to get in some work here and there, mostly on Savage. More podcasts, comics and Savage updates will be coming right around the corner once we set up shop again next week (again - fingers crossed).
Sorry for this insanely verbose update, but without a mic, recording gear and a podcast to do every morning so my mouth can molest the digital airwaves unchecked, I'm letting my fingers violate the interwebs instead. All in all, we are so very fortunate with how quickly things are moving and to be surrounded by the absolute best support system that the world (at least our own silly, tiny world) has ever seen. I'll talk to you guys again soon - thanks for reading (and indulging me!)!