New Burnt Normal

Yesterday was tough. First, there was a report that the #PeakFire had broken out on 118 at Rocky Peak. Suddenly, I lost all confidence that I would be able to go home from work, if the 101 and the 118 would possibly be cut off in the evening. First, I posted on social media.

I put away my laundry and toiletries and everything from the evacuation last night. I slept in my own bed. I got up at 4 to make sure I could get to work, driving the long way around. Now there’s a new fire on the 118, closing the freeway. I have no means to go home and no overnight bag or toiletries. #PeakFire #WoolseyFire

EDITED: I suppose I have to go back to the habit that I never go anywhere without 2-3 days worth of clothing and toiletries in my car, always.

EDITED2: Looks like the 101 *is* open, albeit slow and “red” on all the traffic maps. So I should be able to get home after all. And I’m packing my car-survival-bag. 

There was a time when I kept my clean laundry in a large duffel and a bag for my dirty laundy, both in the hatchback of my car. It meant I always had the means to survive for however long required, even if I couldn’t go home. And in the evacuation, that’s exactly what I grabbed to race out of the house: My clean laundry duffel and my dirty laundry bag. I was able to do my laundry while waiting out the fires at my sister’s house, and that’s what I’d taken back in the house when I was gratefully able to return home.

Then the absurdity of it all kept crashing in on me, at my desk, and I posted again.

Feels really stupid to burst out in tears just because I think I’m trapped at work, when others lost their homes or lives or loved ones. Fire nerves have me really frazzled. #WoolseyFire #PeakFire #HillFire

Now obviously I know better than to discount my own feelings and emotions and experiences. But it was frustrating all the same.

What I hadn’t expected was trouble getting to my home after work.

Offramp, left turn, roadblock, u-turn, fwy. Offramp, left turn, left turn, right turn, roadblock, right turn, left turn, roadblock but the cop would speak to me. Waved through, skip left turn with roadblock, left turn, right turn, last driveway before next roadblock. Home. #fires

EDITED: I also successfully avoided bursting into tears, talking to the cops who waved me through after my third roadblock.

I barely even knew the back streets. I live really close to a freeway offramp. Why would I need to know how to drive through curving residential streets behind me? Chatting with our neighbors, who also had trouble getting home, we’re assuming it’s to keep away possible looters from all the abandoned homes during the evacuations.

And then this morning was odd, for my drive to work.

Things that change when everything burns or is cutoff by roadblocks: (1) Getting gasoline. I usually fill up at the station by my driveway or the station one exit away, less than 2 miles away. It took 13 miles before I could exit on a non-roadblock to buy gas. (2) Getting a quick drive-thru breakfast sandwich. Usually I go two exits then back on the freeway. Today, my breakfast was 15 miles away. (3) Tonight when I go home, I will probably have to navigate the 3-4 roadblocks before being waved into the residential district again. (4) And when Sweetie and Boyo went for an evening walk, I was nervous they needed ID with addresses on them to be allowed outside on the streets.

Who knows how long we’ll have our new normal. Again, I didn’t lose my home. I didn’t lose my job. I didn’t lose any loved ones. Processing the small inconveniences is disturbing.

These are my views on the drive home.