they came without sirens. 4am and just lights. the neighborhood was dim, darkness perpetuated by an outage that diminished power but didn’t eliminate it.
in over three decades they have never been here before and i hope they never have to come again.
the buzzing in the living room and the hot electrical smell were, frankly, terrifying. with wee-hours-just-awakened brains we gathered the dog, important papers, laptops, phones, wallets and put it all in the car. i threw together a small bag of our clothes and made sure we had a leash. the thought “what should i take?” kept playing through the fear, on repeat and somewhat incessant, yet unanswerable.
the carbon monoxide monitor woke me up. it wasn’t wailing, but it was beeping in the basement. i went down to investigate, but the lights wouldn’t all turn on and those that did were only partial power. i woke david and we walked the house, room to room, checking lights, while i called the power company to report this strange outage.
the living room stopped us cold in our tracks. the buzzing and the smell. loud and strong. neither were explainable. i called 911.
i have since decided that we should, for any unexpected emergency, have a go-bag packed. a few essentials to take us through a few days in case of any reason we need to leave in a hurry. we had one packed – as suggested – during the riots and the curfews of 2020, but we’ve since put it away. it would be wise to just have some necessities you do not have to think about. grab and go.
but the unanswered question, the real question: “what should i take?” what would represent life here – my children, my parents, our families, this creation of home. which trinkets, which photographs, which antiques, which blanket or memento, which album, which painting, which any thing. for a moment, i stood, smelling the smell and hearing the buzzing electricity, and i had no answer. at all. no idea.
for anything to represent life and love and time spent, passions and hard work and celebrations and grieving, it would have to be the stories of it all. one giant kaleidoscope, a myriad of constant change and brightly colored life itself, a timeline of full-spectrum light and deep midnight sky.
i froze in the living room that night. i wracked my brain for what to take. and i was afraid.
yet, the firefighters came and allayed our fear. their thermal imaging showed no hotspots. they checked each room, each floor and the basement. they traced the buzzing and the hot-electrical-smell to the cable box and the tv. i silently gave thanks for the CO monitor and its beeping, for light sleeping, for our good sense to get up and check the house, for the professionals who quickly arrived. i don’t want to think of what might have been. and really, “there’s no way to know what might have been.” (little texas)
instead, i will sit in gratitude for what is.