Jon walks out the door, and fifteen seconds later, pops his head back in saying, "Hey Tom, you see what's going on out back? You got a big fuckin' fire behind your house."
Sure enough, I run outside, and there's a big fuckin' fire behind my house (pictured right). From my vantage point, on 8th Avenue, it looked as though the fire was coming from Hector Street, about four blocks away...and what would be almost exactly the location of my friend Ryan's house, whose name has been mentioned in these pages before.
Immediately, I was on the horn calling Ryan to make sure that he was okay, that he was aware of a big fuckin' fire in Conshohocken and whether he could verify whether or not it was emanating from his house.
He answered, said he was fine but was in his car on the way back to his house - was maybe two minutes away, and could see a big fuckin' cloud of smoke coming up from the ground in the general direction of his house, and didn't know if his house was safe or not. He'd call me as soon as he knew.
Immediately, my mind flashed back to senior year at college, when after a post-bar keg party at my friend Kelsey's house, the woodstove caught fire and burned the entire house beyond repair, destroying nearly every singular possession of kelsey, as well as those of his three roommates. It was a terrible situation, but one in which nobody got hurt, and kelsey and his roommates were flooded with donations, both from individuals and from random "fundraisers" (i.e. a keg party with a ten-dollar entry fee, with proceeds going to the four unlucky residents). Quite a situation, one that I'd prefer not to see happen to anyone whom I care about - or don't, for that matter.
Within a moment, Ryan had called me back and told me it wasn't his house, but this was indeed a fuckin' fire and a half. He was safe, everything was fine but the parking from his end.
It seemed that a fire had broken out at a nearby construction site, where some new riverfront property was being built. The building collapsed, and in doing so it ignited a neighboring building, a condominium complex. This building, as I learned afterwards, was occupied and evacuated very quickly. Unfortunately, given the time of day when this incident occurred, a fair amount of homeowners were in transit from work and were unable to enter their condos upon arrival. And a very sad result of this was that many pets were lost in this fire - how many exactly, I have no idea.
Beyond that, the fire - an eight-alarm fire - destroyed nearly 200 condos and displaced more than 370 people (according to 6abc.com), a number of whom were at my restaurant later that evening, "...trying to get their lives back together," according to my boss, Chuckie.
But thankfully, no humans were killed, and the last time I heard, the only injury was a minor smoke inhalation. But wow, what a spectacle to have seen in person - let alone on television, which showed a non-stop video feed from an encircling helicopter that looked like hell had spilt over.
So count your blessings. Nothing I have is permanent, nothing I am is permanent. And in a world in transit, an ever-changing world full of wonder and mayhem, we should all feel fortunate to have all that we do.
I counted mine, over a flawless, home-cooked dinner with people I love.