This is a picture of the Waldo Mountain Fire in Colorado Springs (photo credit: The Denver Post - there is a slide show at the link of hundreds more images).
I'd gone to bed, exhausted, at 9 p.m. Tuesday night and just laid there, eyes wide open, restless legs wriggling and writhing, head pumping out jumbled thoughts at warp speed, checking my phone for updates on the fire, on friends. When I finally gave up and dragged ass out of bed Wednesday morning around 4, the above image was the first I saw.
I have never, in 40 years, seen anything like it. Not just the Waldo Canyon fire - although that is the worst as far as our current fires go with 300+ homes lost and 30,000+ evacuated including the residents and employees of the Air Force Academy - but all of it - all the fires surrounding us, a ring of fire really. The smoke so thick at times, my eyes water involuntarily and I feel as though I can't breathe.
And still the heat, the oppressive glare of the sun beat down on our heads, no relief.
Time felt as though it were standing still as heat and smoke and fear-filled tension pressed down on our heads as I waited with baited breath to hear news of containment or if fire lines had been breached. The week stretched into one continuous hot second. And it seemed as though Friday, my favorite day, would never arrive.
When it did, finally, a larger than usual crowd gathered at our usual watering hole. But the energy was off. Not low but aggressive, pent up, volatile. It was as though everyone had been penned in by the ring of fire and the heat and had come out swinging when the weekend gate got sprung.
Nothing was right about that night.
When I got up yesterday morning, my entire being felt mired in yucky muck. Wave after wave of anxiety, of angst, of feeling as though I were somehow all wrong crashed over me. Rationally I knew this wasn't so. Intellectually I knew what I was experiencing was a culmination of raging PMS hormones, hot flashes, PTSD-induced emotional overload, and feeling trapped, suffocated, by the damnable sustained heat.
Still...I couldn't seem to help myself as I whipped my insides raw.
You know, I am really not a very good friend to myself occasionally. In reality, I'm the worst of the worst kind of enemy - sneaky, malicious, cruel. It's pretty awful how I treat me. It's a good thing I have a lot of people who love me in my life who make up for the abuse I sometimes heap on my own head. It's also a good thing I only treat me so poorly. Otherwise, I'd be completely friendless and unloved. I probably would have been stoned to death long before now.
That was yesterday.
Today dawned with goodness in the air. Oh, it was still hot, believe you me, but there was a whisper of an idea - a promise to spend time with Acr0nym (something I've gotten precious little of in the last few weeks...I'll tell you all about that later) - doing something a little different.
The text read: "I have a vague craving to go find a buffet at a casino in the mountains...Whatcha think?"
I thought it sounded particularly awesome.
Not because I love casinos or buffets for that matter. I can gladly live without either one. But because it was a chance to get in the Intrepid with the BFF and Hans the Roaming Goth Gnome, all of us together again, for a Sunday afternoon adventure to somewhere that was not 100°.
It was a beautiful drive - even if the world outside looked parched, shriveled, half-baked. The traffic was easy, the late afternoon sun not quite as brutal while we were enveloped in the confines of the tinted windows and air-conditioned Intrepid interior, the conversation, as usual, easy with lots of comfortable silences.
The first casino we came to, the Riviera, had a blazing neon sign announcing "Crab and Prime Rib Buffet served nightly!" Since Acr0nym specifically mentioned he was looking to gorge on crab legs and prime rib, this seemed to be a sign that we should stop post haste.
I couldn't stop grinning as Acr0nym and I piled our plates high with crab legs - a first for me - and as he taught me the misogynistic art of tearing off and cracking open each leg to get at the delectable meat. He made fun of me for eating a salad even if I did put extra bacon and croutons on it. I teased him for not letting even one vegetable pass his lips (at which he pointed out the trace amount of spinach he'd ingested with his one oysters Rockefeller). We avoided the starches - no taters or green beans or dinner rolls - so as to pack as much tasty tasty meat into our bellies...until we got to dessert and, well, you should have seen the desserts.
I'm not ashamed to admit I had two.
On the way back, we both yawned openly and often and sighed with contentment.
It was a wonderful afternoon.
Beyond that, it was a soothing end to an icky beginning. It's still hot, there are fires still raging - now tearing through my Wyoming home, I'm still prone to little waves of panic, of worry, of feeling as though I'm somehow all wrong about any number of things - not the least of which is the wonder if I'm the one who is somehow just all wrong generally speaking. But I feel better. I remembered that, no matter what, I've got an awful lot of love in my life. That there are too many people to mention who love the woman I am for all the reasons I'm good but also because of all the reasons I'm not.
I'm putting the flogger quietly away now.
I am a lucky girl.