Friday, July 19, 2013

Fuck you Fire.  What about MY Summer Vacation? 

This is a play by play of our experience with the Mountain Fire

My kid got a scholarship to Band Camp for TWO weeks.  (Allelujah. Allelujah.)
I was going to have a GREAT time!!!  (Allelujah. Allelujah.)
Martini’s, napping, spa days, did I mention martini’s?
And not hearing: “MOM!!!”
So we drop our kid at band camp in the mountains.
There is a lot of weeping. 
She wept a lot too.  Then she decided that this scholarship, for which she had to audition, was maybe not such a good idea.
She offered to do all the chores in the world without ever complaining again if we would just take her home.
She begged, pleaded and wept.
She was very clear that she had CHANGED HER MIND about Band Camp.
Sorry Charlie.  We are outa here!
“I love you.  You will be fine!”
However, we drove off with a pit in our stomachs.
But once we got home we figured: She’ll work it out.  She’ll be playing music.  She will be fine.
And then? I started to relax.
Got my younger daughter in a day camp program.  (Allelujah. Allelujah.)
Thought about getting a pedicure in between work and appointments.  Ahhh…(Allelujah. Allelujah.)
Monday afternoon Palm Springs becomes oddly dark, smokey and ashy. 
There must a fire somewhere…you know, somewhere up over the mountain there.
Uh, the Mountain there?
My kid is on the other side of the mountain.
Nah…It must be coming from somewhere else.
My husband calls.
I blow him off.  Chill Dad – she’s fine.  The fire is over by Hemet.  Why Hemet must be zillions of miles away from Idyllwild? Right? RIGHT?
Someone else calls me and asks what I think about the fire over by Idyllwild.
Uh…over by IDYLLWILD? WTF???

And so it begins.
Instead of putting my aching feet up and having a cocktail while toasting my kid for getting a scholarship to a TWO WEEK music camp…I become ONLINE SUPER VIGILANTE FIRE MONITOR MOM.
And I no longer sleep.  I do get in bed.  With all my devices.  They are all on chargers.  I’m wearing my yoga clothes with my tennis shoes by the bed.  I am ready to go!!!
Cuz that fire went for a few acres Monday afternoon to thousands of acres the next morning.
I keep checking with the camp.
Cuz …in Palm Springs? It is dark like night in the middle of the day.  Ashes are raining down everywhere (or do I have very severe dandruff?).  People are wearing masks on the streets of Palm Canyon. Sort of Avian Flu like.
My dogs vomit when they go outside cuz of the dense smoke. (But really? Better they vomit outside than in. I’m a glass half-full person after all.)
However, at the camp, the staff are VERY calm. (Too calm? I ask myself.  Remember – I have stopped sleeping. I’m old, I’m tired, I’m menopausal. I NEED my sleep! I can tend to overreact.)
I keep logging into the Idyllwild Town Crier, which btw, has a motto of “Almost All of the News – Part of the Time”.  I personally apologize to them for logging in 97 times every hour for 72 hours.  You Go Idyllwild Town Crier!!!

So I try sending my daughter comforting texts which of course she doesn’t respond to.  Phone dead? Highly likely.  Bad cell service?  Of course.  Cell Towers on fire? Shit.
Is any of that information calming? NO.
I send incoherent, late night emails to friends with better technical skills than I have (virtually all my friends, I believe) asking them how to help me get more info.

By Wednesday I have figured out how to watch the Fire on a Google Earth app. Now THAT does not reassure me at all. 
I’m ready for the Evac Order.
We cancel our dinner plans. I put on fresh yoga clothes and pack a couple of bottles of water.  I double check the charge on all my devices.
I do NOT have the martini I so long for.
The Evacuation Order is issued to the camp.  They are given a route and an Evacuation Center to head to. 
We get in the car.  My Brazilian blowout has somehow become a complete afro.
Finally my daughter calls me.  She is so upset.  She had to leave her beloved teddy bear, her beautiful-amazing new guitar (8th grade graduation present) and all of her clothes, etc behind.  She has her saxophone and her iPhone.

Now, there is this:  When I dropped her at camp I had threatened her: Don’t you lose that guitar.  If you don’t take care of it and it gets stolen, no one is buying you a new guitar!  Do you understand me???
So she thinks I am going to be mad as they descend the mountain, 56 kids per bus, 10 buses, traversing smokey, dark, winding roads.

Oh Baby (I say through shitty cell service – hence I use a very loud, borderline hysterical voice) I’ll get you a new guitar.  Don’t worry about it.  You are safe.  You are a good girl.  I love you.
We will meet you at the evacuation center. Keep your phone on so I can track you. Don’t worry about anything.  I love you!!!
And I log into Find Friends and I watch that purple dot come down the mountain. 
Technology is now my best friend.
And texting.  I now fully embrace texting:

Mom - Hi Baby.  I love you !  Thank you for telling me you are evacuating.  We will be there at the High School Evacuation Center in a couple of hours!  I love you.
Mom - You guys are not at the high school.  I can see your purple dot.  You are parked at an elementary school.  Are you still on bus?  I love you.
Blondie – Yeah I’m on the bus still.  We are waiting for an entirely different camp to unload.
MOM – Unload at the elementary school?  Do you know where you are?
Blondie – Not any idea.  I’m on a bus.
MOM – I see buses.  We are following a bus!
Blondie – Ok. It looks like we are going into a big parking lot
MOM – We are behind the row of buses.  Maybe this is you. I love you.  Good girl!
Blondie - Kisses
MOM – I’m here. Outside the buses on sidewalk!! Where are you?
Blondie – Ok, I have to go to the gym.  If there are other kids with music cases, follow them.
MOM – Are you still on the bus?  Look for me!!

At this point I am waving my arms constantly like I have some sort of Windmill Arm Disorder.

Blondie – I’m not OFF the bus.  I’m near the exit of the parking lot.
MOM- Is there a Cute super blonde girl at front of YOUR bus?
Blondie – With sunglasses on her head?
MOM – No big black glasses.
MOM - Look for me on sidewalk! 
MOM – Are there buses in front of you? 
MOM – Are there buses in back of you? 
MOM – Look around!
MOM – I’m looking for you Honey.
MOM – Are you on the right or left side of bus?
Blondie – No response.
Blondie - I see you.  Ok. 
Blondie – Oh. There you went.  You passed me!
Blondie -  Go back to where you were. By the front.
MOM – Now?  Can you see me now? (Windmill Arm Syndrome really flares up here.)
Blondie – You are on the correct side.
MOM – Which bus? There are 10 buses! (More Arm Whipping.  And Jumping.  I do NOT jump.  I’ve had many spinal surgeries.  Jumping is NO GOOD.  But I’m jumping.)

How do I end up finding my Blondie?
I knock on the window of each and every bus describing her: Tall, blonde, short hair, sax player?
And then I see her little head.

MOM –  I see you. Come down to me now.  NOOOOWWWW!!!

And what happens in the car on the way home from the evacuation center? First she asks for McDonalds. Then she asks how soon she can go back.  Cuz she is just LOVING this amazing band camp!
Honey, we will wait and see.  30,000 acres and counting.
But the second they get the all clear order? We will be the first people up the hill. Hey, getting a two week break? Not happening.
But I’ll take whatever I can get…even two days!
Out Damned Fire! Out!