Ya know when you’re wallowing in your own anxiety about your first world problems like getting rid of internet at home for financial reasons and if I’m being honest, a whole host of other financial problems? Then the universe, God, karma, what have you, smacks you upside the head with letting horrors happen to others in your life to bring you a shit ton of perspective? No? Just me? Oh okay. Sometimes it feels like it’s just me. But considering one of my supervisors told me I was tragic adjacent after I spent the hour describing what had been happening around me, I’m guessing this happens to everyone every now and then.
After a couple different text exchanges with different family members resulting in me wanting to go to them and kick various people’s asses but instead promising to pray for them (because that’s what we do in my family when we can’t get violent with the offending party), I was left spending my Christmas not feeling so bad about the ongoing financial struggles of being a one income family. My family problems aren’t mine to go into detail about, but they were shocking enough to jolt me out my head. And if anyone reading out there reading this has anxiety, you’ll know just how difficult it can be to get taken out of your head. Then New Year’s Day happened (cue the scary music)…
My plan for New Year’s was to do nothing. Maybe, I’d let my person convince me to go to one of the parks near us. Maybe. It wasn’t like I was hungover or anything, I’m just lazy. Oooor I like doing nothing. (Isn’t that the definition of lazy? I don’t know and can’t be assed to look it up.) I woke up around 9:30 and plopped down on the couch. My person started making us bagels as I gained the energy to start making coffee. We heard sirens and person saw a couple firetrucks come into the parking lot my apartment building shared with the one next to us. Person decided to step outside to see if there was anything going on worth going outside for. A few moments later, he came into the kitchen to inform me the building adjacent to ours was in fact on fire, and they had evacuated the apartments.
It took a couple minutes for me to register what he had told me. Once my coffee was done, I decided to take a gander outside. Yup. Three units (1st, 2nd and 3rd floors) toward the middle of one side of the building looked to be burning. The rumors were already swarming, but the gist was someone drove into the ground floor and the two units above it were damaged as well. The strange thing about the fire was that every time it looked like the fire was under control, it would start up again. As it came out in the end, the car had hit a maintenance room and ruptured a gas line which the firemen didn’t know about for a couple hours.
By the time the gas leak was discovered, the units next to the initial ones were on fire. So, I spent my New Year’s morning with my last eggnog latte of the season watching the apartment building next to mine burn. Around noon, when the fire still wasn’t contained our power was shut off. And the news crews started to show up. And then the Red Cross came. Then the fire seemed to spread into the attic. And the center staircase of the building caught on fire. Eventually, the flames seemed to be under control, and the fire departments from surrounding towns were sent away. Our power was turned back on. Then… the other side of the building, the one closest to my building started burning. The fire burned for about twenty-four hours before they started demolishing the building in an effort to put the fire out completely.
The two people in the car both ended up dying eventually. Sisters in their seventies. Seven fire fighters and one resident were taken to the hospital for exhaustion, smoke inhalation etc. Only one kitty was rescued from the building, and I heard of at least two families worried about their cats they couldn’t find before they had to evacuate. Over eighty people ended up homeless. We having been living next to large pile of the charred remains of people’s lives where if the wind is blowing just the right way still reeks of smoke.
By being tragic adjacent, I’ve had a lot of perspective taking. Financial problems are NOT the worst thing that can happen to me. However, the last time I was this tragic adjacent it was the catalyst to major depression that changed me. The waves of sadness and gratitude take turns as I remind myself neither will last forever. And I remind myself that it doesn’t have to be like last time. I’m still on edge about what will happen next, but nothing has happened to me or those in my circle in a couple of weeks now. It’s bizarre that it has only been four weeks since the first instance of being tragic adjacent. It seems like so much longer. Alas, I think that’s the nature of time… it flies when you’re having fun or not living in a state of worry for your family and neighbors and then it becomes sloth-like (the animal not the character from The Goonies) when you just want things to return to the status quo.
The moral of this story is to renew your renter’s insurance. Happy New Year (thirteen days late).