well, today has been interesting.
thanks to my risk control & insurance background, i know just how easy fire spreads in frame buildings. thus when looking for a place to live, my conditions were a sprinklered concrete building.
5am this morning the fire alarm goes off. thinking it was a false alarm (as we've had multiple times in the past), i get up and poke my head out the door into the hallway where i am greeted by smoke and screaming neighbors. doing what you're not supposed to do, i went back and grabbed mean kitty, my purse, my camera and hard drive (my digital photo album) and race down the 6 flights of stairs to the street where i turn around and see flames lighting up the dark sky.
as murphy would have it, the only wood part of the building (the rooftop deck) was not protected by the sprinkler system. police arrive early and move all the residents across the street where all we could do was watch the flames & flying embers. though the closest fire department is literally 3 blocks away, it took 18 minutes for the first fire truck to arrive and more than 10 minutes later to get water onto the roof. (apparently there was another fire being fought at the same time and the trucks weren't ready to respond to ours).
30+ minutes burning. a wood building would be long gone.
photo by John Spink, AJC
i haven't gotten very personal here, but it's probably time. i just spent the weekend at a retreat my church had in florida. it was amazing. i spent time with the ladies in my small group and heard some truth-filled messages from perry noble (google him. apparently, he's controversial.) my volleyball team won 4th place (a come from behind finish - and i remember how much i love volleyball). i learned about the movement about to happen in chicago via soul city church, and i'm going to be involved. for the first time i felt the urge to go on a mission trip. i saw my friend and 20 other people get baptized at dusk in the gulf of mexico and it bought me back to my baptism 5 years ago on that same beach. i felt the presence of God there in his creation and it was powerful. i have no clue why i did this, but on the 6 hour drive back yesterday, i prayed a prayer of indifference to material things. i told God i would follow him wherever he leads even if he takes all my stuff away. it would free me up to do what he wants me to do with this life. i remembered this as we all stood around watching the fire unfold, helpless (except to check iphones), and clinging tightly to our animals (i forgot to bring down mean kitty's carrier). today, i was supposed to start my new job (oh yeah, i got a new job!). providentially, i had all my important documents (passport, etc) ready in my purse to fill out paperwork on the first day. in my mind, everything else is replaceable. computer, clothes, furniture. it's meaningless.
dad picked me up around 7am and brought me back to his condo to try to get mean kitty to calm down and me to get some rest. i called my work and it almost sounded a bit like 'my dog ate my homework': 'um, i can't start work today because i'm still in my PJs because my house caught on fire and they won't let us get in the building....' they were totally cool with; really good, actually. and my new boss' boss sent me an email asking what he can do - not sure what, since he's in the midwest - but that's awesome to have that kind of support. and i sent an email to friends, old colleagues, and family, just to give a quick recap of what was happening. i literally have offers of couches and spare bedrooms in a dozen homes here in atlanta. texts from friends in other states and emails of genuine gratefulness for my safety (and mean kitty ;) i have some truly great people in my life. if i don't tell you enough, i'm deeply sorry. i really mean it and sometimes it takes a close call to see it clearly.
4pm i get to go back to the building and check out my unit. there is smoke and water damage to the halls floors below but no actual fire damage. i entered my unit to see nothing changed. smelled a little smokey, but nothing damaging. I thank the Lord my God, seriously, for concrete buildings. this could have been bad.
later this morning, i saw this blog entry i wrote a while back...