The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire…

I had a Bad Day on Tuesday. You know the sort: when you’re pushed to the outer edges of your sanity by work, irritated by certain personalities, screwed over by the volatile randomness of the universe, and forced to make a difficult choice: pizza, wine, or both to emotionally drown your sorrow? (For what it’s worth, I chose pizza.) Wednesday was meant to be different, with its calmer nature, nighttime formula sinus medication, and West Wing marathon. Then I heard my roommate.

“Casey, I don’t want to worry you, but I think part of the building’s on fire.”

Even with my sinus situation, one sniff was all it took for me to confirm that the smoky scent I picked up was not coming from my overworked, cheap space heater that resented still being cranked up high in April. I did not have time to finish my episode of The West Wing; I had to get ready to evacuate. I changed from bedtime shorts to yoga pants, as though having my ankles cold would be that much better than having my shins chilly as well. I mentally high-fived myself for having resisted the urge to take my bra off before 10:30.

Then I packed. Okay, I threw my laptop and phone into my purse, and that’s it. Looking around my tiny lofted room, I saw precious little that meant a lot to me. Sure, I’d be upset if I lost all of my clothes, books, CDs, and mementos, but let’s face it, they are things. I took my means of communicating with the outside world and nothing more. (This is a lie. I grabbed my Kindle, but it was plugged into my computer already since it was charging, so it just kind of happened, okay?)

My roommates scrambled to pack up their cats in the meantime. Five of them, to be precise. In four carriers. Our sixth cat, Cinderella, resident eater of souls and vicious old crone, will gouge out the corneas of anyone who dares to spell the word “carrier,” so we left her upstairs until we figured out why there was smoke billowing past our window.

Then the power went out.

We formed a pathetic, shuffling parade of sad people with sadder cats and moved into the hall. (I bitterly noted that the hall had electricity still.) There, a neighbor told us that a section of the roof was on fire. There were no evacuations happening, and the firefighters were letting residents come and go as they pleased. It was roughly freezing outside, so we decided not to stand out on the street with our brood, being silently judged for having four cats even though we actually have six and thus deserve more scorn. Back into the apartment we went with our unhappy pets to wait. And wait. And wait.

At quarter til midnight, I decided to risk my iPhone battery to use my flashlight app and pack a bag to go to my sister’s. I don’t need power through the night, but the possibility of a cold morning shower in the dark was not tempting to me. I would do the walk of shame with my bare ankles to my sister’s place if it meant getting off to work with marginally less greasy hair. As soon as I walked downstairs with my backpack (change of clothes, phone charger, and that’s it), the power was restored. Hipsters cheered on the firefighters in the streets, and then they were gone. I reassured the Internet that I survived, then gave in to the smothering embrace of the PM sinus medicine.

My kitten woke me up at 6 to fetch. That bitch.


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