It was a long week. The first week back from vacation and even though the re-entry was as smooth as it could be I was still struggling. So when Friday came and went I was thrilled. Got a head cold from a coworker but I was home and safe on the couch so nothing could harm me. I shot the above picture looking west at the magnificent sunset. Posted it to Facebook and soon enough my friend Alice would comment. But she would catch me off guard. With the caption "good sky" Alice added "helped by that fire in Flushing perhaps". I hadn't realized that there was a serious 3-alarm fire in a two-story commercial building in Flushing. It was now under control. Whether the fire added to the spectacular visual I have no idea. But gosh, doesn't it put it all into perspective. Sometimes you don't know the story behind the image.
Recently I've been antsy. Since the wedding I have done a lot of thinking about the next chapter in our lives. We have come to realize that we are going to be in the city for a few years more while we look to buy our first home and attempt a move outside of the five boroughs. I've applied for a new position at work because in order for me to stay engaged at my workplace for the next 3-5 years I need a new challenge. But the process has gone on longer than I anticipated and anxiousness has begun to morph into impatience. Add to it our recent bouts with lack of hot water and then total lack of water because of the water main break on our block, and the consensus was only becoming more clear. "This city is really trying to kick us out" we'd remark, only half joking. But then we had another visual, and more, learned the story behind it, and we shut right up.
On 30th Avenue in Astoria you find a number of large cafes and open eateries and coffee shops and hookah bars patronized by the diverse groups of Greeks, Eastern Europeans, Muslims, and Middle Easterners, just to name a few. It's a real scene, one of our favorite aspects of the neighborhood. The machismo is wonderfully ridiculous, the femmes at times truly unbelievable with their outfits, and undoubtedly some of the best people watching in Queens. One such staple on the block is a place called Flo, which has been around for many years while other places come and go almost overnight. Well, this is what Flo looked like Tuesday evening.
According to the locals on the corner the fire started in the basement and took off in no time. There were people upstairs in the apartments but they got out in time. The firetrucks would barricade the bustling avenue and work for most of the day to get the fire under extinguished. By the time I would pass it on my evening commute home it would be nothing but a burnt out shell. At yoga my love would learn about those people that made it out of the blaze. The receptionist and her boyfriend would make it out in the nick of time, but only with the clothes on their back. They would keep their lives but otherwise they lost everything. Everything. The neighborhood would ban together and donate whatever they could to help. We swore to go get gift cards at the local pharmacy so they could attempt to get those little personal things that make you feel clean and human and like yourself again. But how do you deal with that? Losing everything in the blink of an eye. It must be the most wild metaphysical awakening. Clearly across the oceans the brave, stoic men and women in Japan are being forced to learn the same lessons, but by the millions. Either way, I can't imagine. Almost too much to comprehend.
Kind of puts it all in perspective, doesn't it?
We should all be so much more thankful for what we have.