A World in Flames
I realize this is a writer’s blog. I like to think it’s more about a writer’s life then just about the act of writing itself. Otherwise, this would be a pretty boring place and OCC/RWA is never boring. As such I decided to take this opportunity to blog about something I am a little too close to: smoke and flames.
On Sunday night, my family and I left the Orange hills in search of Chinese food. As we were driving we saw big plumes of smoke in the distance and thought “Oh no! Something is on fire.” On our way back from dinner it was dark and we could no longer see smoke. But we did turn on the TV to see what was going on. Malibu fires, San Diego fires, Agua Dulce fires and (as if that wasn’t horrifying enough), Santiago Canyon fires. I stayed with my parents and watched the news as towns where old schoolmates once lived fought for survival. My parents’ house is on a hill on one side of a valley. On the other side we can see Santiago Canyon Road, and parts of the 241 freeway. There are mountains, some closer then others. At around 9pm my sister shouted “look out the window” The entire right hand side of the mountain nearest ours was aflame. I’m not talking about smoke, I’m talking about bright orange flame.
After some debate my years of education paid off and I won an argument against my mother!
Her logic? It’s pretty far away.
My logic? You are about to sleep for eight hours. That fire has 40 mile-an-hour winds behind it, there is NO WAY that fire is eight hours away.
My father, a doctor, headed to the hospital just in case he was needed on hand. The rest of us evacuated to my apartment further north. As we drove away, two cars full of people, papers and clothes I could only be grateful
It wasn’t until we reached safety that we started thinking about all the things we hadn’t packed. A portrait of my grandmother, childhood momentos, irreplacable things that we could have packed quickly if it had occurred to us.
A lucky shift in the wind saved my childhood home, and I am grateful. But if there is one thing I’ve learned, there are two kinds of pain. There is the pain of the physical loss of a loved one, and also the pain of the emotional loss of a cherished memory.
In the days ahead, many people will face challenges. I urge you, and your families to think of what you cannot live without. Make a list, take pictures, do whatever it takes, but don’t leave yourself vulnerable to a double loss. Your home can be replaced, you and your memories, cannot.
Be safe, be well, and be careful.
Dana Belfry is an aspiring author and a proud member of the OCC/RWA. She happily lives near the beach, rollerblades as often as possible and constantly comes up with story ideas. She is currently working on a contemporary single-title. Visit Dana at her blog at http://www.danabelfry.com/blog/
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