More cleansing action. I actually found this ultra healthy stew to be on the tasty side.
It’s no mac and cheese, granted. But it does NOT make me want to vomit.
Since cleansing is a serious thing, I thought I’d tell a serious story.
In 1997 I was affected by a devastating fire that cost four people their lives.
It was my very first apartment, the 1960’s Tiki-themed Kona Village, about an hour and a half outside of Seattle.
It was essentially a retirement home (I was the youngest resident by a minimum of 40 years), I seemed to be the only one living there for the kitsch factor.
In addition to Tiki gods affixed to the sides of the 150 unit complex, you were greeted at the entrance by two enormous tiki gods, about 25 feet tall each, and a tiki water fountain with huge torches.
The cranky old manager gave me the option of two units. One in the corner and one above him.
I chose the latter, for some unknown reason.
I had a jolly good time decorating my new swank pad.
What I basically did was turn it into living art.
I completely covered a wall in tin foil and painted abstract characters and not so famous quotes on it. I brought in tacky, vintage furniture and plastered something weird on every square inch of the place.
I called it the Tiki Room.
I’d have people over and fix them cocktails with various pixie sticks dumped inside. Each combination had it’s own name, my favorite was the Tiki Swamp, due to it’s greenish hue.
As I wasn’t used to living alone, I’d have people there all the time, begging them to spend the night.
And they’d all sign the guest book.
This guest book is now a cherished collection of random, hilarious stories that I hope to God is somewhere buried in my parent’s house.
One morning I woke up to an extremely inviting, warm bedroom. Who had turned on the heat?
Something brought me to the front door and I opened it up to witness a blazing inferno in progress.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I felt like I was dreaming.
Everything was silent. No fire trucks, no yelling.
Here I was staring at a crackling, devilish fire that was dripping from the windows and languidly devouring unit by unit. The fire moved so fast, I actually stood there and watched in reverie as it enveloped two entire units, like water over a sand castle.
I didn’t panic. I had a plan.
After collecting my photo albums and my CD case, I did what any normal guy would do.
I raced to the bathroom to fix my hair.
I knew I’d be standing on the sidelines for a while and didn’t want to look a fright.
As I left my apartment in a daze, I saw photographers taking pictures of the scene, and began kicking myself I didn’t do the same.
It was quite the sight, the deadliest fire in the cities history. You could see the smoke all the way from Seattle.
A few hours of watching the scene and being told countless times I could NOT remove my vehicle even though I had a clear exit, I called my grandfather who drove me to my job at the mall.
Apparently, before I left, I was supposed to check in with someone that I was still alive. Oops.
This caused a mild panic for my mother when the firemen on the scene couldn’t find my name on the list of survivors.
This was the precursor to her thinking she’d lost me to the Tsunami in Thailand, years later.
I was busy at work, slinging pretzels. However, it all seemed even more pointless today.
I eventually had to go in the back room and cry.
Of the 150 units, only 6 or 8 survived. Mine being one of them.
Even though the cranky old manager would often come out in his underwear and scold me and my friends for being too loud, I guess I can be thankful I chose to live above him.
A military man (who had just shipped out I think) had left his space heater on, killing four tenants on either sides of him.
Two of them were a sweet, old couple I’d often encounter at the pool in the morning. They’d both show up in matching bathrobes, saying “Good Morning!” in unison.
A few days later, the tenants of the remaining units were allowed to collect their things.
I had no idea what mess I’d be coming back to, or if anything survived.
I was unnerved to be escorted onto the premises by men encased in space age suits (like the scene in ET), wondering why they thought it was OK for ME to breathe in the asbestos-ridden air.
I was in the first round of folks allowed in, we only had 1.5 hours to remove all of our furniture and belongings from the premises. Such pressure! I brought in reinforcements (friends and family).
I later found out the next round of tenants only had an hour to do the same.
My manager and someone from FEMA accompanied me into my apartment to survey the scene.
Fortunately and unfortunately, nothing was damaged….
…I was mortified by, not only what they must have thought seeing all the “art” on the walls, but the fact that me and a friend just had a candy eating contest shortly before and there were wrappers all over the floor.
They must have had zero doubts they were dealing with a crazy person.
I have to chuckle when I recall that, before I first moved in, the manager warned me about how I’d lose my security deposit if the window slats weren’t spotless upon moving out.
Because the building was never fitted with a sprinkler system, we were all awarded some money resulting from a lawsuit, the check came from FEMA a few months later. Since I didn’t lose anything, I was only given a few hundred bucks.
I probably blew it on CD’s and movies.
While all my friends joked that I started the fire with my tin foil covered wall and we still make fire jokes today, I’m traumitized by the incident.
No one bothered to wake me and get me out! The fire was moving so quickly, what if the wind changed directions and it came my way??
And watching a hundred little homes burn before my eyes is a sight I will never forget.
Funny enough, I’m currently living in another old apartment building with no sprinklers. At least there’s an ancient fire extinguisher outside my front door.
Conveniently, the glass has already been ‘broken in case of emergency’ and I’m somewhat certain it hasn’t been serviced in 10 years.