Sunday, January 30, 2005

Our Last Night On Earth

Yeah, I believe in reincarnation. I have spoken many times about how I don't truly fear death as much as I fear the experience of grieving the loss of my own experience of this unique life. God, I will miss it.

I can philosophize all day about the one commonality among everything living: Death.

That just doesn't prepare you for the aftershock of a near-death experience when you start to consider all of the tiny factors that went into saving your life.

I can say without this being over-dramatic that Cyprus and I came very close to dying last night/this morning. 30 seconds and a mini-fire extinguisher saved our lives today.

Our home was on fire in the early hours while we were asleep:

Just before 5 am, Cyprus burst through my bedroom door and screamed that our apartment was in flames. Cyprus can be dramatic, so some tiny party of my just-wrenched-from-sleep mind thought, okayyy, okayyy... Until I saw that my open bedroom door was glowing BRIGHT, shifting orange and I heard the loud crackling and popping!

I flew from my loft bed, down the ladder and into the living room. I just couldn't believe my eyes. Half of the entire doorway between the living room and dining room was in flames; about 7 feet of fire.

I do not know HOW we remained so calm, but I have been in threatening situations before and have been startled by my ability to think clearly, even if I am disengaged from the intelligence of my body. It's like I go completely into a mode that KNOWS what to do, even while I feel like a disengaged observer.

Cyprus was in that mode at that moment.

I truly believe that it is because of her, ultimately, that we are alive.

I sleep with my bedroom door closed. I would never have known the living room was on fire. Cyprus usually dismisses any unusual sounds and lights because she would rather just roll back over and go to sleep. Something in her made her get up... Just to check.

I was standing by the flames, thinking for what seemed an eternity, but it was only seconds. Within those seconds, Cyprus had already grabbed the mini-fire extinguisher from the kitchen and gave it to me. The fucking pull-tab (or whatever it was) would NOT come loose!

The flames were growing and spreading SO FAST and I couldn't see or figure out why the tab wouldn't work. God, the sound of that crackling and the heat! The mini-extinguisher is over 7 years old, or even older, because we don't even remember where we got it or how we got it. We are lucky it worked at all.

When I got the extinguisher to work, I methodically sprayed down the fire. I don't know how I knew what to do because I wasn't just spraying and flailing... I actually, specifically, sprayed key areas and the flames dissipated really quickly (relatively speaking).

30 seconds to 1 minute later, and no extinguisher,... our entire couch and walls would have been on fire. I will never take for granted the preventive measures we can add in our life.









This is the bird-feeder lantern we had hanging above the couch decoratively. It was completely ablaze. After extinguishing it, I unhooked it and took it to the shower to spray down. It was glowing orange, still crackling.

After an hour of sitting, cleaning, and pondering all the good and bad things that did or could have happened, Cyprus noticed the inside of the blue chair was releasing smoke... she sliced into the material and found that the INSIDE of the chair was still on fire! Smoldering and glowing red was the thick, ancient rubber-foam inside! We both began slicing and pouring water on it, eventually freeing the rubber/foam and getting it to the bathtub. After thoroughly putting out that secondary fire, we continued to clean up and air out the apartment.


Our walls are blackened, blistered and severely damaged.





After-shadow from the extinguisher chemicals on the pillow that was on fire.


It was a bizarre experience to consider what may easily have been our last night on earth. We would have missed everyone so much...


Don't get me wrong... I know how lucky we were/are,... how much worse this could have been. I live with a heart full of gratitude, but today I am especially grateful...

6 comments:

ethereal_lad said...

Wow!

I'm glad you're alright. How are the pets? Were/are they freaked out?

CocteauBoy said...

The animals are fine. We all probably suffer from some kind of smoke inhallation, but we are all okay. The dogs remained in the bedrooms completely out of the way and did not react fearfully. Only after the fact did we realize how horrifying it would have been to try to get dogs, a cat, and a boa constrictor out onto the fire escape and down to the ground.

I don't even want to think about it...

Troy

PJS said...

JEEZ TROY! Wow, I'm glad you guys woke up and are OK. In all the ancient firetraps I lived in in NYC, it's amazing that never happened to me. Sorry you had a scare, and sorry your blue chair was wounded, it looks like a really cool chair. In fact, your whole apartment looks cool. Hope it won't take too much trouble/money to repair the fire damage.

What caused the fire?

potusol said...

It's amazing how something so simple (fire) can go from friend to foe in the blink of an eye. I'm glad you guys weren't hurt and that you were prepared to take care of it. I just went and found my fire extinguisher just to feel better. Get that burned stuff out of your place asap, it's still releasing fumes even if it's not burning. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness that you and Cyprus and the animals are all fine - I would have missed you guys so much!!!

No more fires - ok?

With much relief and love,

Vanessa

From My Lips to Your Ears said...

Let's hear it for a mind that can navigate through crisis.

I am so glad to hear that you two made it through that. I cannot even imagine. After reading your post, I realized i do not have a fire extinguisher.

That will be remedied at once. Thank you for the reality check.