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De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
I was just leaving the house to go run an errand when my peripheral vision caught a strange glint in the distance. Then I heard a pop, like the sort homemade fireworks make, and thought, "Why would anyone light them on Valentine's Day?" And then I saw the flames, shooting up much faster than they would have in an average fire.

I called 911 on my cell phone and got through immediately. I don't know if I was the first caller, but I was definitely one of the first, since the operator only began to realize the scope of the problem while I was talking to her, as other calls came in. I ran inside to close the windows and tell Kim what was happening, hearing a series of pops along the way. By the time the two of us got outside, the fire was spreading rapidly. We ended up standing to watch it for a while. It was truly horrifying to think how likely it was that someone was killed in the fire. It got too big too fast for anyone with a mobility issue or some other impairment to get out of the apartments you see in flames safely. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but I fear the worst. I guess we'll find out tomorrow, though I'm not sure I can bear to hear the news. I've looked across the vacant lot between our subdivision and that apartment complex many times, wondering what life is like there, watching the silhouettes of residents passing back and forth in front of their windows, hearing their indistinct voices from their balconies. It's so eery to look at this photo and think how different the view will be in the morning. What a terrible way to end the day.
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elizabeg From: elizabeg Date: February 15th, 2006 06:59 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Terrible. I still remember when a house across the street from my parents' caught fire. I can't remember how it started, how old I was, or anything except the orange light cutting through venetian blinds and then the pulsing strobes to signal the emergency. But that much I remember viscerally. Charred morning after and, yes, fear. But in the way that I remember it the people were all fine that time. I do think I remember that much right, the blessing of.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 15th, 2006 08:18 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Fire is one thing we all remember.
From: wondrousbeauty Date: February 15th, 2006 07:05 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Oh, God. That is horrifying. I'm really hoping everyone got out ok.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 15th, 2006 08:18 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
It seemed more optimistic when I walked over there later. I didn't see obvious coroner-like activities. But there were surely pets in those apartments too. It has me sort of freaked out.
From: e4q Date: February 15th, 2006 12:39 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
i watched someone drown once. they were far away, but we had shouted and they had shouted back, so we were the last people to communicate with him. we stood and stared at the water for ages afterwards, but the thames is a big old tidal monster, and he was gone. it was the day after the timothy mcveigh execution, and i had been listening on the radio about people who were for the death penalty and against but who were both going to witness it. i had idly wondered what difference it might make to witness a death of someone you didn't know. this guy was quite far out, you couldn't see his face, so it was the least possible witness i could have experienced, but i still felt sick afterwards, and went all shivery. it was like my head was a vulcan, (hmm, fascinating) but my body was very visceral about it.
kdotdammit From: kdotdammit Date: February 15th, 2006 02:02 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I saw a house burn and a boy drown when I was a kid. Both experiences terrified me. Last night's experience terrified me too.
From: e4q Date: February 15th, 2006 02:45 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
i'm not bloody surprised. so close to home, and bringing up those other memories. quite apart from fire being way in front of anthropological as a fear
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 15th, 2006 02:10 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I hope I never have to watch something like that. I've been lucky so far. I've seen the wreckage from terrible auto accidents, but only a fair piece after the happened. I've seen a few accidents happen, but none in which anyone was seriously hurt. Your description of a mind-body split is very vivid and reminds me of less serious experiences I've had where I noticed something similar. Indeed, I often feel like someon with a Vulcan head and a human body.
From: e4q Date: February 15th, 2006 02:49 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
well, it was interesting, but, like you, i had only seen aftermaths or near misses. when humans have died i have never been that near, even my first kitty was at the vets and was put down in my absence. i had a cat who died while i was in the bath, and i talked to her for about an hour afterwards. i am glad i did that, because it was soon after that that i found out that not all the senses die at once, and that hearing is the last to go.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 15th, 2006 06:46 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Wow. That's really interesting. And sad. I'll remember that about the senses.
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