Saturday, February 23, 2013

call me cathy

This morning started off not so unlike many other Saturdays. I woke up around 8:15 or so and laid in bed for awhile, catching up on social media on my phone, drifting in and out of sleep, and not waking Matt. As I lay there, I started hearing a banging sound, like someone knocking really loudly on a door. But it didn't sound like my door. But considering the houses in my neighborhood are fairly spaced out...whoever's door was getting banged on was really getting banged on. Lola wasn't barking, though, so I knew it wasn't ours, and I pretty much didn't think on it any further. A few minutes later I heard sirens. Those sound like they're really close, I thought. But then I didn't hear them any more, so I went back to my Facebooking. Then I heard more sirens. That's weird, why so many sirens? They sound so close. But again...they stopped, so I basically forgot about it. 

At 8:45 my phone alerted me with this Facebook message from my next-door neighbor:

Speaking of moving fast...
Matt and I were out of bed, semi-dressed, and sprinting to our front yard in about 30 seconds flat. We joined a group of our neighbors, cops, and firefighters standing in our front yard and saw this:

"OH! I didn't think yall were home," Ashley said as we joined them. "I figured if you were home you would have heard everything...??"

Oh no. We were home. And I heard it. I'm just actually that clueless. I mean, I figured if Lola wasn't barking, we were all good. Apparently she's not as useful as I had imagined... 

Of course the first thing I did was sprint to the firefighters and ask about the people that live there. Luckily, no one was home, so that was excellent news. They didn't have any way to contact the people that lived there, though. I actually did have the lady's number, so I went inside to get it and then they were like "yeah can you just go ahead and call her?" and I was like...yeah, THAT'S a phone call I'm just dying to make. "Oh hey, neighbor-I-barely-know...just wanted to let you know your house is burning down! Have a great one!" I did call, though, several times, but she never answered. I believe my first message was something like "ummm...Katie [not her real name, btw]...this is Erika...across the street?? Well...I'm not sure where you are, but I think you're not least I HOPE you're not home...because ummm...your house is on fire? And we think no one is home but um...yeah, so...just call me back if-WHEN!!- you get this message..."

So we spent a few hours standing out in the freezing cold semi-drizzle, rubbernecking and coughing from all the smoke. The fire was mostly in the back of the house, so we couldn't see many flames, just tons of smoke (and water from the hoses). We did see all the windows bust out and such, though. It was really sad...the firefighters opened their garage and I could see the kids' bikes and we were all like just let us run in and grab their bikes, okay??! They're going to lose everything, can we at least save a freakin bike??! They have 3 kids there, age 8-14ish...sweet kids, they're ALWAYS playing out in the yard and riding bikes. My kind of kids.

Because all of the emergency vehicles were blocking the street and there's only one way in and out of our neighborhood (not all that practical, actually?), we turned our front yard into an impromptu highway.

See all the cars making muddy ruts through my yard? Yep. Awesome. And there's Lola, still basically unimpressed by the whole thing. Apparently I've been totally misreading her her whole life. A squirrel three blocks away? MAJOR FREAK OUT. Someone walking a dog 200 yards away (when she's inside, looking through the window)? MAJOR FREAK OUT. Someone pulls up in our driveway or dares to knock on the door? MAJOR FREAK OUT. House on fire, 20 emergency vehicles parked IN YOUR FRONT YARD? Yawn.

The firefighters declared early on that it would be a 'total loss,' which is really sad, but I was so incredibly thankful that the family was didn't feel like nearly so much of a loss as it could have been. It would be horrible to lose all of your things, but luckily, stuff is replaceable. People are not, which is what I've learned the hard way in my personal history with house the fact that this one turned out differently was very, very good.

It felt strange to just move on with life after a morning spent watching someone else's fall apart, but that's what happened. I had plans to meet my friends Elizabeth and Laura in a town halfway between here and Atlanta (where they live) for lunch and hanging out, and there was no reason to cancel our date we'd planned over a month's not like all of my staring was actually helping the firefighters or anything. So I drove to L-ville and enjoyed a fabulous afternoon with some of my oldest (in length-of-friendship, not age) friends.
 We hit up an oyster bar for some tasty crabcakes & fish tacos first, then browsed at antique stores until hunger once again struck and forced us to spend a few hours in a bakery.

 Clearly, we were suffering there. Pay no attention to the fact that there are 5 cupcakes and 1 piece of cheesecake for 3 girls. Just believe that we each got one extra treat for someone at home. My cupcake was Salted Caramel Macchiato and it was basically freaking fantastic. I had no idea that after a few bites I was going to find some kind of espresso-chocolate cream stuff in the middle. HAPPY SURPRISE, yo. Also, they gave us these tiny silver spoons to eat with and we almost lost our minds with excitement about them. I know. Women. Who can understand them?

So we had a delightful afternoon laughing and eating and then I came back home to Matt, who'd been taking care of the rubbernecking monitoring in my absence. Basically the firefighters/investigators were all still there, doing their thing. Even up until about 7:00 tonight (at which point it was too dark to tell what was happening) they were periodically going in with their hoses and spraying stuff. Can fire burn that long? Sheesh. But now I'm worried that they're gone and what if there's still ashes inside that catch fire again and they're not there and no one notices and....and stop. I'm going to freak myself out if I keep following that train of thought.

Oh yeah, want to know how the firefighters even found out about the fire this morning? Because a cop just 'happened' to be driving through the neighborhood and noticed the smoke. He's the one that ran up to the door and started the banging that I heard all the way across the street. Thank you Jesus for cops that just 'happen' to decide to drive through sleepy neighborhoods on Saturday mornings...

And finally, for a funny-ish story to end things with. Ashley (neighbor) had been standing with some other neighbors that live catty-corner from us before we got out there. Now these neighbors have lived there for maybe a year or so, but we've never really met them. I mean, we wave or whatever, but we've never spoken. I know, it's sad, but whatever. So anyway. After Ashley messaged me and then I came outside, apparently this other neighbor girl (my age, roughly) noticed me coming out and said "Oh! Cathy's coming out!" And Ashley looks at her and is like "Cathy??...pretty sure her name is Erika." And the other girl was like "Oh. Yeah. We've never actually met her, so we just call her Cathy." I totally had to bust out laughing at that one. They NAMED ME Cathy??!! I just didn't know I looked like such an obvious Cathy, but apparently I do. So. It also made me feel happy to know I'm not the only person that just arbitrarily assigns names to people I don't know. And now I feel like I could probably be friends with that girl, since we have the Naming People thing in common. So...yeah. (For the record, if I were to choose a new name for if I went into Witness Protection or something...I would pick Madeleine. I've always thought I'd be a great Madeleine. Just FYI.) Weird day. But I'll take 'weird' over 'unspeakably tragic' any day, so...very thankful for that.


  1. So creepy when it happens so close to home! Glad your day ended up being entertaining and not depressing though...and glad you/Matt/the pets/your house are ok!

  2. Hahaha! That is crazy that they named you Cathy! And then mentioned it out loud!! HAHAHA. You do kinda look like a Cathy though - AND a madeleine! :)

    Crazy day!! Sad for your neighbors but glad they weren't home!

  3. Hi Cathy! Umm... I mean, Erika! I'm a fairly new reader and figured it was time to stop being a creeper and introduce myself :) I'm Tammi... a fellow random people namer... from Cincinnati. My husband and I love coming up with names and backgrounds of people we haven't met... this is usually when out to dinner or around crowds of people but we also have nicknames for our neighbors as well. Love that we aren't alone!

    I'm so glad you and your neighbors are safe and I will keep them in my prayers.

    I also want to add that you are one of my favorite bloggers. Your sense of humor and love of life are contagious. Your blog makes my heart happy and I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you!

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend!!!

  4. I know what you mean about moving on when someone else's life is falling apart around you. It just feels wrong, but what else can you do? That is crazy that they had to drive through your lawn. Boo.

  5. So scary!We have also lived within close vicinity of a fire.And it hands-free officially paranoid about house fires. I recheck appliances, stoves, and curling irons and check fire alarms more than is probably healthy.glad that family is safe!

  6. WHOA. How scary! I'm so glad that your neighbors are safe. And I'm glad that I have you in my blog feed, you who tell heartbreaking and hilarious stories, most often in the same post.

    Stay safe and I'll be praying for your neighbors tonight.

    Love ya Cathy!

  7. That is really scary. And sad. But so thankful the family is safe. . . all of them.

    I love that your neighbor named you Cathy. That is about the most awesome thing ever.

  8. I can't believe there were fires in both your and Allison's neighborhoods recently! So glad the family wasn't home and that they are safe!

    That cupcake looks to die for and I'm obsessed with the fact that your name would be Madeleine. Spelled the French way with the "eine". You've warmed this supposed to be a French teacher's heart :)

  9. There were several things that made me crack up in your story here....
    1) "I'm just actually that clueless."
    2) The msg you left for your neighbor!
    3) CATHY!!!!

  10. First Allison's neighbor and now yours? I'm thinking I should warn my neighbors that they might be next. Glad the family was ok at least, and glad you got cupcakes!

  11. Ha! I'm gonna just start naming my neighbors that I don't know either. But yeah, I would have gone with something like Madeline over Cathy also. :)

  12. Hey there! I'm your newest follower and look forward to following your journey! :)

  13. Wow! Having a fire near your house is scary but I'm glad that no one was injured. (A hair salon a few blocks away from us burned down a couple of years ago.) I'm also sorry you had to be the ones to tell your neighbours -- that's a tough phone call to make.

    The cupcakes looks awesome! And can we just call you Maddie for short?!


I love comments almost as much as I love Mexican food. Seriously.