I'm sure you heard that Southern California is ablaze. From where I sit here in San Diego, it might as well be the entire world.
I'm safe and my loved ones are safe, though I already know two people who've lost everything. I can't imagine how many more times I will hear this awful news in the coming days. This thing is far from over.
It's hard to believe I flew to Northern California just this morning for a work trip. It wasn't easy to leave my community behind while it burned and, by the time I arrived at the Bay Area office, the situation had worsened. My mom was evacuated (she and her house are fine) and making her way to my brother's house on the coast.
Even if there were no fires, today was promising to be a dark day for my family. My mom was supposed to take our beloved 18 year old cat to the veterinarian to be euthanized (she's been on her last legs and suffering for months). But the vet - along with everyone else - couldn't get to work, so poor skin-and-bones kitty was whisked away in my mom's car amidst the evacuation frenzy.
When word spread to my Bay Area colleagues what was going on in my home town, I was sent back to the airport. Within two hours of landing in Oakland, I was in flight and headed home to the brown-orange skies of San Diego.
I drove straight to Wine Guy's place. His office was shut down, along with everyone else's, and he was home experimenting with cookie recipes (seriously) and listening to the worsening news. We embraced and commiserated and then I started dialing.
First I made sure my mom was safe and then contacted another friend to make sure she and her family got out of Rancho Bernardo in one piece (they did and were readying themselves for a restless night in the Miramar military barracks).
After those pressing calls, I finally had time to think about my own situation. I was safe physically, but I was scared (hey, I still am). Everyone I knew was safely ensconced with their families. Now it was time to get my family together.
It didn't occur to me until later tonight, after my friends left the impromptu party at my house, that the "family" I selected in this situation happened to be my unmarried friends.
I've always said, "My friends are my family." But over the last few years, that statement started to sting a bit as many of my dearest friends got married and started growing their own families. As much as they still loved me, I simply wasn't their family anymore.
With disaster all around and the knowledge that our world here will be forever changed once this horrible week (or more?) is over, I instinctively reached out to my unmarried friends. I couldn't bear the thought of Mendoza, Gouda, Scotty -- all with immediate family far away --going through this without a familial safe zone around them.
So tonight we gathered at my place to drink, eat and watch the world burn on TV. The news grew unbearable, so we turned it off for awhile and sat on my patio sipping wine, eating tasty carne asada burritos prepared by (who else?) Wine Guy, taking self-timer pictures and loving on Mendoza's dog. For a few hours, this impromptu "family" found comfort (and many drinks) with each other. I think I even managed a few carefree giggles.
About an hour ago I popped inside for a bathroom break and made the mistake of flicking on the TV and seeing that the news had grown even worse. Evacuations at the coast. Precautionary, but still scary as hell. I even saw the words "Camp Pendleton" and "evacuation" scroll across the bottom of the screen. Not good since my mom and brother's family are in nearby Oceanside. I'll just hope that is precautionary too. Because every time I see the maps on the news with the growing number of cute little flame logos spread across all corners of the screen, I'm just start to feel, well, trapped.
Work is closed again tomorrow (and likely Wednesday), so I think I might just keep drinking. Wish us luck. Dismissed.