the lights went out at approximately 11 in the evening last night. since i come from a country where power outages are more or less the norm, i thought nothing of it. i chalked it up to the wailing winds. most like, i thought to myself, it's just a safety precaution.
the silence in the apartment, however, meant that i could hear everything outside. it didn't take long for me to make out the sounds of choppers and sirens. my sister thought it was a car chase along the highway. i agreed.
it wasn't until around 1 am when the lights came back on that we were able to watch the news. the mountains behind the apartment complex were on fire. had it just been my sister, her husband, and myself, we would have waited it out. but we had baby mac. so we had to go.
i had always wondered what i would bring if i had to leave the house in a haste for one reason or another. i knew that my laptop was going, of course. plus my ipod which doubled as an external hard drive. my sister piled some clothes into a big bag.
i looked at my backpack which held all my chargers and electronic stuff. i considered what else to bring. pictures. my passport. my small journal. my rabbit necklace.
and that was it. i guess i'm fortunate that most of my stuff have more or less taken permanent residence in my backpack as i've been living out of a bag for a few months now. easy access.
i realized then that i've pretty much gotten rid of my packrat tendencies. or perhaps tamed them. i left my new books, clothes, small items that i would've taken with me had this happened last year. instead i packed food, in case we got stuck somewhere while in the car. i packed toothbrushes, my contact lenses, spare eyeglasses. water. soda. cooked rice and the banana bread i had baked that afternoon.
i packed necessities, and traveled light. before 3 am we were out of there.
we stopped along the road to configure our navigator because they had blocked the freeways. i took a quick photo with my phone. pardon the blur. the winds were too strong. i could smell the smoke, and strangely, it reminded me of christmas in baguio. burning pine wood.
our apartment complex is located at the foreground, where the lights are.
right now the fire is 20% contained. 8000+ acres have been burned. 1400 firefighters have gone out to help. 600 homes burned to the ground. i can only pray it gets no worse.
for now i'm glad we're safe and together, and we had a house we could go to. i pray for all those who are not as fortunate.