Remember the Lost
Smelling the stench of smoke in the air. Hearing the whipping crackles in the wind. Watching my childhood home from birth vanish before my eyes.
This was no magic trick. An ashy velvet blanket of black covered all that I knew, all that I loved.
This dreadful instant in my life changed me forever.
As a child growing up in Malibu, California – one of the most flammable of areas – I was used to the zombie-like practice of gathering all my valuables and transferring them to the safe haven of my car – as a just-in-case procedure if a fire came near. Unfortunately for Malibu, a fire always did seem to come near. When I was young, I didn’t grow up with playful “snow days,” but instead dealt with stressful “fire days” where I wouldn’t go to school and instead go home to watch the news and pack in case of an evacuation. This ritual became something I was accustomed to practicing, but until this fateful day, never truly meant anything. In my heart, I always knew I would be unpacking all the items back into my home, my sanctuary.
This time it would be different. At three a.m, I heard screeching sirens and woke up to a satanic red and orange sky that was strangely beautiful, yet eerie. The strong colors clashed against the soft crashing waves. For a few moments, the world seemed to be standing still.
All of a sudden, time quickly sped back up as an earsplitting firefighting plane came around a bend. I followed the plane and watched as it progressed to a spot just behind my house. The plane seemed to dance elegantly in the devilish sky. Mesmerized, I watched the plane drop the aesthetic sparkling white powder over the flesh-eating flames charging too close, too fast.
I broke down.
This whole moment in time seemed completely surreal. I had to gather myself together and do exactly what I practiced over the years. Difference was: this time it was real.
I ran into my house. I looked out my tiny bedroom window. The flames stared back at me. My body...