Last week the fire alarm went off at midnight.
I don’t mean that it started doing the battery chirping thing or whatever.
I mean that last week, while The Mr was fast asleep and snoring upstairs, and Binky the Wonder Dog and I were downstairs grabbing a little quiet TV binge time in the wee small hours, a deafening shriek ripped the silence followed by a robotic voice shouting “FIRE, FIRE, FIRE!!!”
I threw my bowl of late night pistachios all over the family room in my startled haste to get upstairs and make sure The Mr was up (he is a shockingly heavy sleeper) and as he messed with the main alarm it started shouting “C.O.! C.O.!” instead and the next thing you know we are out on the front lawn waiting for the fire department, pacing back and forth with Binky who is, as it turns out, not deaf enough in his old age to miss being totally freaked out by that noise.
Jr, blessedly, was up in the mountains with my parents at the condo – the “divided bubble model” as I like to call it when we split off into sections of our tight little pod. So he missed the excitement.
It was a faulty alarm, and the very nice fireman got it off the ceiling and told us to replace it and tootled off with his sleepy jr officer in tow.
I would love to say that was the end of it – but we all know that isn’t how late night fire alarm shit goes down now, don’t we?
10 minutes later – the battery chirp DID kick in, and of course we didn’t have enough batteries to go around, and around 3 a.m., I finally concocted a plan, cut the power at the breaker and disconnected the batteries and the whole addled house “settled” for the last few hours before dawn.
I was kinda messed up and couldn’t bring myself to ever do anything that would make the noise again, so Binky and I hid out in the back yard while Zach the Awesome Electrician got us set right the next day, (seriously, if you are on the CO front range and need an electrician, HMU, I have got your dude.)
Normally I actually think I could have done it – even after the night of NO sleep, even after snuggling a totally freaked out geriatric dog for hours, even knowing that loud noises are at the top of my “crap Keri hates” list.
But that is the thing. Nothing is normal now. Nothing is even close. And in that moment I couldn’t handle one more damn thing.
Because my poor sweet kid being up in the mountains with his grandparents wasn’t just a spur-of-the-moment thing, but instead a product of an ongoing plan to carefully make sacrifices and choices to allow for us to be physically close to my parents.
And because when I called the non-emergency number and stood out on the lawn waiting for the fire department to show up, I looked at The Mr and realized we didn’t have our masks – and we stood way back as they came, N95s firmly affixed, to clear our house and explain the issue. I wanted them to know that we want to keep them safe too, as they protect us and do their already difficult job in this impossible time.
And because I sat, snuggling that dog, waiting for the sun to start to creep through the blinds in our finally precariously silent family room, ordering batteries and junk food from Amazon fresh for a 6 a.m. delivery, thankful for the option, but at the same time mourning the quick trip to 7/11 I would have made to remedy the situation back in February.
Or maybe, just maybe, it was because every decision I have to make at this point feels like I’m the protagonist in a YA dystopian novel trying to decide which potentially life-ruining (or ending) cliff to run off of – or if I should just stop running and wait to see what the ominous, menacing presence will do to us.
I feel like for the past 5 months an alarm has been sounding FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! in my head at loud and quiet intervals depending – but unending.
I have learned never to dare the universe and say, or even think, that I can’t take even one more thing.
Because each day – each hour – each blink sometimes it seems – is GOING to bring something else.
There are moments, maybe not whole “good days,” but moments, where we thrive.
In between, and often, it seems, we endure.
Today – the alarm is quiet.