At first I thought the bang was just the roofers. They’d been up there for days, so their hammers and footsteps had faded into the background.
But when a flash of light shot through the sky, I realized that noise was thunder. Better bring those boots in from the patio.
I had no idea how bad it would get.
Rain shot down sideways outside, hard and heavy. The sky turned that deep, impenetrable gray that said the rain would last awhile. Great news usually, since California is in a drought.
Now, I didn’t choose my apartment for its quality workmanship. So it didn’t surprise me to find water rushing in under the baseboards. It pays to downsize when you’re working on a startup. And annoyances like leaks come with the territory.
Maybe the water pooled faster than usual, sure. But it was raining harder than usual too. I’ll just grab a towel to catch the mess.
Except on my way to the bedroom, I get wet.
I look up at the ceiling where a pinprick hole drips a steady stream of water. The carpet below already a dark brown stain and spreading.
“Babe, grab the mop bucket! The roof is leaking!” I yell at my husband. Something in my tone tells him I mean business I guess, because he leaps out of his chair. His computer game flashes colorful explosions after he leaves.
I slide my feet into his boots in time to hear him say “oh fuck” from the bedroom. So I clop to the room in his oversized shoes. I find him standing in the doorway. Over his shoulder I see what he sees. Water rushing in around the light fixture over the bed.
Our mattress and bedsheets are a water world.
In moments like these, you find out what you really care about.
I wrap my laptop up first. Slide it into its diver sleeve. And get it onto dry land. My laptop is access to you and other blog readers. It’s my Writers of the Future mission story. It’s the Blog Your Way to a Writing Career course footage and scripts. It’s my work.
Once I feel reasonably sure my laptop will be alright, I stomp out into the rain.
“Hey!” I scream through the wind. A man stands on the roof with his back to me. He gestures wildy to someone I can’t see.
“Hey!” I scream louder. He turns.
“We’ve got water coming down everywhere in here,” I tell him, my hand over my eyes to shield them from the rain.
His hands go up in that conciliatory gesture. “We’re trying,” he says. I don’t know what that means, but it’s clear he’ll be about as much help as they were when they tore our roof off the only time it decides to rain.
I give up on him.
“We’re getting everything out,” I tell my husband when I get back inside. The light fixtures in the kitchen pour water now too. A crease forms in the living room ceiling and water drips through the crack.
“I’ll get the Ford. We’re gonna save what we can,” I say. He’s already packing up his laptop.
I sprint through the parking lot in pajamas and his brand new leather boots. It’s 8:30 in the evening. And this time of year 8:30 means it’s light enough outside for anyone to look out their window and see me sprinting in camisole, leggings, and my around-the-house bra. (Read: worn elastic and almost zero support).
When I run I look like a braless Dolly Parton in a bounce house.
I make it to the parking lot where my car should be. It’s easy to tell the difference between rain water and sweat, because your insides feel like a fire tornado.
“Damn it, Mandy!” I say out loud when I realize my mistake. I’d found a parking spot close to home yesterday. I’d run all this way for nothing. The storm is so loud, no one can hear me yell at myself. Not that anyone is dumb enough to be outside. Them and their stupid intact roofs.
I sprint back to my apartment, slower this time because I’m out of breath. But I still have enough energy to leap over the odd black widow web near car wheels and utility boxes.
I find my car where I left it and move it to our front door. My husband and I spend the next hour triaging our lives into two cars. Sometimes the roofers help us to carry things.
The laptops and our dog go first. Household files and documents next. The kinds of things that are hard to replace. Passports. Birth certificates. Marriage license.
Sentimental stuff goes next. My grandma’s china set. His father’s old books. Family photos and genealogy.
I save a few books too. Nonfiction guides on writing, media training, and business. The knowledge base I’ll need if I’m to pull off my business ideas with any success. Plus the clothes we need to work in.
We save a few kitchen items too. The ones that support GAPS diet, so I can keep healing.
We don’t have time to save everything. We don’t have enough room in the cars either. The TV stays. Electronics. DVDs. We abandon the bulk of our book collection, and the years and thousands of dollars they represent. Those books were the only material luxury we allowed into our minimalist lifestyle. The furniture, too, gets ruined.
Through it all, I’m a woman on a mission. Focused on the moment. Maybe even exhilarated. There’s nothing to do but to be there, minute-by-minute in the here and now. To work side by side with him to save anything we can of what we’d built.
Everything I usually worry about goes out of my mind.
My apartment flood excited me. It didn’t seem an entirely appropriate response. And lately I ask myself why I feel the way I feel in an effort to be less of the asshole type of INTJ. So I ask myself—self, what the fuck?
And that’s when I realize. I’m bored. My life is boring.
The business isn’t moving fast enough. My story isn’t moving fast enough. And after coming up with the ideas, like Blog Your Way to a Writing Career and my novelette. After choosing the things I want to pursue and planning all the steps to get me there, the work just feels like waiting.
But I’m stuck for now. Until I finish those projects and they’re making money. Until I can use that cash flow to fund a team that can help me execute these plans as fast as I can plan them.
And until then, I have to get through it all myself.
So I work. And I wait. And at night, when no one is looking, I smile when I think of the flood.