It's Friday. I had just had a meeting which went longer than meetings. Also, anyone who thinks it's a good idea to have a meeting on a Friday afternoon is very, very delusional. I get back to my office and it's time to go. The voice mail light on my phone is flashing red. Ugh, it's Friday, I think. I don't want to check it. It can wait until Monday.
I assume the message is Jesse, calling to see when I'll be home. I decide to call him when I get to the bus. Except I forget. He calls when I'm about to get off of the bus.
J: You need to get home. There was a fire in unit (insert neighbor's unit number here). I just spoke to building management and they said that the fire department had to break in to our place to see if the fire spread.
Me: OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. Is Nicky ok? (yes, the first thing I thought of was the cat, our little fur baby)
J: I don't know. I didn't ask. I'm sure he's ok.
Me: You didn't ask?
J: It was a 30 second phone call.
Me: I'll call you when I get home.
I was furious at Jesse for not asking about Dominick, but this was overshadowed by my extreme worry that something had happened to our baby.
When I get to the condo lobby, I am greeted by some residents of the floor below us. One of them asks me, "Did you hear?" I answer, "Yes, I just found out. And they couldn't even tell us if our cat was ok." She responded sincerely (she has a dog, so she understands), "I'm sure everything is ok. Good luck."
The elevator ride to the top floor is the longest one ever. My heart begins to pound and I feel as though it is going to come out of my chest.
I get to my floor where I am greeted by men in suits. I rush to my door and find that someone has bashed it in. The Suits come over and ask, "Do you live in (insert my unit # here)?" I turn to them and say, "Yes. Is my cat ok?" One of The Suits says, "Yes, he's ok, but a little shaken up." I open the door and can hear Nicky howling. "Meooooooowwwww," he cries and my heart starts pounding faster. I pick him up in my arms and kiss his little head. Oh thank goodness he's ok.
The Suits follow me in, explaining what happened, as I walk into the bedroom (the one room closest to the neighbor's unit). All I could hear is "Blah, blah, blah" as I inspect the damage. First, I notice that apparently a hurricane had gone through our bedroom too. My clothes are all over the bed, covered in plaster. The TV and stand had been tossed to the side. The XBox was thrown onto the bed. My make-up was everywhere but inside my make-up bag. My shelving unit had been broken apart and its pieces were all over the floor. As I proceeded through the mess, I took it all in. That was when I noticed the holes. The big one was in the ceiling above my closet. And the other one was in the wall above my closet. Pieces of wall and ceiling were on the floor. My heart sank to my stomach. Our home. Our poor little home was defaced. Scarred. I took a deep breath to calm down and regretted it. I realized then that the bedroom reeked of smoke.
I reminded myself of what was important. I kissed Nicky's furry little head again. At least he's safe.
It was then that I thought of my neighbor. I asked The Suits about him during a break in the "Blahs". "He's ok," they said. The Suits left soon after that. After all, it was Friday and they wanted to go home to their unblemished homes.
As soon as they left, I took Nicky into the kitchen and got his Fish Sticks (not real ones, but a kitty treat). I fed them to him one by one. Jesse and I have realized that this relieves our guilt whenever we feel responsible for traumatizing Nicky (we discovered this when we gave him a bath and he was really upset afterwards). I was hoping the treats would help us forget the afternoon from hell.
I got a fresh sense of perspective when I visited my neighbor to check up on him. He was fine, but his condo didn't fare so well. He had two giant makeshift sky lights in his living room ceiling and the wall between his kitchen and living room was nearly torn down.
Our neighbor told me how it all happened. He had a leaky faucet in his kitchen. Building management sent over a maintenance guy (not a plumber) to fix it. He used a blowtorch for whatever reason. The flame traveled up the pipe and through the pipe trail in the walls of his place. When he saw that there was smoke coming from the wall between his kitchen and the living room, our neighbor called 911.
Despite his home looking like a war zone, our neighbor took it well. He came over to our place where we had pizza and beer and played with Nicky.
We're hoping to have the holes patch up this week. And after that, I will only have the memory of the scare of my life to remind me of this day.