Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sleeping Through the Night

I woke up to a large orange glow at the window of our apartment in South San Francisco, probably because my light-sleeping then-husband was walking around and looking outside to see what was going on. He told me that the wooden tower loosely attached to the house next door was on fire, maybe forty feet away. "Get him dressed," he said, referring to Justin, then four months old. I was thus at least four months into serious sleep deprivation, which is why I didn't take one look at the flickering orange window and think, "Omigod, fire."

You don't put clothes on a baby before whisking him out of harm's way. I got dressed myself before I scooped him up in a blanket and followed Danny outside and down the stairs. The neighbors across the street offered me and Justin asylum in their living room, where she and I chatted pleasantly for the duration-- probably about babies, since she was expecting, and there I was with Exhibit A sound asleep in my lap.

Danny stayed outside to move some of our favorite possessions from the apartment to his famous ugly green van. He started with our musical instruments, making three or four trips down the stairs and half a long block to the street, and continued with other things. Even assuming the kind of lazy man's loads that Justin has since become famous for, that must have taken a while. I doubt that Danny minded. He always enjoyed coping energetically with some real-world crisis. He was best at physical emergencies, although he also excelled at retail stores that tried to cheat him. On this occasion, he contentedly hiked back and forth with armfuls of our belongings.

The flaming tower, an odd structure rather like a Dutch windmill without the blades, may have been a relic of the building's days as a farm. We later heard that someone had lived in the tower, a ne'er-do-well nephew of the owner, perhaps, who had somehow started the fire -- smoking in bed, maybe? We never found out any more than that.

The fire never came close to crossing the cement driveway between us and the tower. When after a couple of hours it became clear that the South San Francisco fire department had prevailed, I thanked the neighbors and went home to bed. Danny cheerfully trucked all that stuff back into the house.

Justin slept through the whole thing, and the rest of the night -- the first time he ever did such a thing, and the last for some years to come.