I don’t mean to be misleading with the title of this post. Before we go any further I should clarify that I have a home, I just can’t get there right now. Due to some unfortunate circumstances that took place a few days ago I’ve been forced to play my hand at testing how strong the friendships I’ve made really are. In fact, that’s truly what this story is about: friendship, more so how blessed I am to have the friends that I do, both old and new (you like that?). That, and the unforeseen circumstances thrown in as well, make for a pretty decent story.
I should reiterate too that I moved to Kansas City for a reason. That reason being, among other things, I had outgrown my current situation and needed a place that could keep up with my constantly restless state of being. In the five short months I’ve been up here I can say this city has done that…a little too well. This could be credited to where I chose to live: The Power & Light District, located in downtown KC and the epicenter for almost anything entertainment related that comes across the Heartland. My mother found it hard to believe me when I said I’ve actually been to more concerts since I’ve been up here than almost my entire career in radio. Completely true, or at least close. Either way, the fun never stops, even when you’re ready to at 11:30pm when you have to work the next day. That in mind, let’s begin.
It was last Friday night and I was fresh off not only a work day that included assuring the KC metro that their much beloved and hyped new Boulevard beer ‘Pop Up Session IPA’ would be on the shelf for the weekend (Really an amazing drink, if you’ve not tried it yet I recommend it), but also a Billy Currington concert and Brian Davis PBR Big Sky after party the night before. I wasn’t looking to live it up necessarily that night, so when I found that my friends were of a similar mindset, we began to look for something ‘chill’* to do. I say ‘chill’* because when you live in the liveliest district in KC, ‘chill’* isn’t what most would consider ‘chill’.
We set out to do some bowling at the Z Strike, figuring it wouldn’t be that packed since Bruno Mars and Ellie Goulding were performing at Sprint across the street, Corey Smith was at the Crossroads two blocks away (still kicking myself for not going), and Matt Nathanson was putting on a free show on the stage below the alley in a couple of hours. We were right it wasn’t that busy and the bowling was fun. It also helped that my college friend Andrew was working the bar and volunteered to be our server. Let me put it this way: if you’re ever jones’ing for some pizza and few frames, go see this guy. Just don’t feed him, then he won’t leave you alone.
*ALSO, note to my fellow Panther Alums: he does NOT honor the Drury Discount, which is a thing and shame on him for not knowing about it.
Afterwords we went out on the patio to catch the Nathanson show in full swing. Around the time he was winding down, so was my friend Steph, who had to be in St. Louis at 11am the next morning. She started to say her goodbyes, trying to get out of there before the Bruno Mars crowd started to flood in. I was fine with this until she reminded me that she left her things up in my loft, meaning I had to travel with her to get them. It took all of two seconds and half an evil smile to realize she had planned that so she didn’t have to walk alone.
As we approach the loft complexes we start to see caution tape, then a crowd, then my lobby doors completely open with a bit of smoke escaping and the sound of a power hose going to town inside. I ask the nearest person what happened, this was the conversation:
Witness: “There was a fire”
Me: “Ok, I live here, sooooo”
Witness: “What floor?”
Witness: “Oh honey, you’re fine then! It was an electrical fire on the 2nd floor. Everything from the third down has some smoke damage, 2nd down has some water damage. The rest of the building smells, but ain’t a thing wrong.”
Me: “Awesome, can I go in?”
Witness: “Yeah, but the power’s out, you’re gonna have to take the stairs. And watch your step, it’s soaked!”
We took the 11 flights of stairs, which proved my insistence on doing so at least once a day to help train for this impending marathon I’ve insanely committed to wasn’t going to go unrewarded. I scaled each step with ease. Steph, on the other hand, did not. This presented a problem for her because she hates stairs, but also a problem for me because she had the only source of light in an otherwise pitch black stairwell. Once we reached the 11th floor (after a breathing break…Steph…) We stayed in the loft, illuminated perfectly thanks to the open windows welcoming the city lights, we stayed long enough to grab her things and determine it wasn’t a good idea for anyone to stay here especially with the power completely out and no determined cause for the fire. She said she would stay awake and be ready should I choose to come stay with her. This also meant I needed to go and get Ryan back at Power & Light, whom at this point was most certainly in no condition to drive.
I walked back down to P&L, now filling up with Bruno Mars buzz and the typical crowd (Imagine the Jersey Shore with everyone dancing to ‘Get Lucky’) Quite a fun scene. I go up on the Z Strike patio, and find Ryan with Andrew and some other college friends, ready to go. Not go as in leave, but the other go. Again, think Jersey Shore. Andrew, who agreed to return home to STL the next day and catch a ride with Steph the next morning at 8am in order to so, leaves for Johnny’s Tavern and the rest of the DU crowd. It’s important to note this, because it’s the moment I said “He’s not going to make it”. Ryan asks when I’m ready to leave, with a water in my hand and a defeated look on my face due to my current living situation, I say ‘whenever’. He agrees to finish his drink, pay his tab and depart.
When he leaves for the bar, another figure approaches to my right. A new figure, and not a bad one. Guys, I’d say about an 8. Ladies, I’d say she has a decent ‘personality’. The conversation goes as follows:
8: “Good concert, right?”
Me: “Yeah, it wasn’t bad at all! Dude can still rock it”
8: “…You don’t seem like you’re having a good time”
Me: “Well, I just found out my apartment complex caught fire”
8: “OMG! Are you ok?”
Me: “…Yeah I’m clearly ok”
8: “Well, do you have a place to stay?”
Me (catching on): “…Yeah, I’ve got a place to crash for the night”
8: “Are you sure?”
Again, to put us all the same page, this is Power & Light, thus this conversation isn’t that uncommon. Tonight, I just wasn’t in the mood, no pun intended. I’m not one to dismiss what could potentially be an awesomely awkward moment though, so in what is perhaps my best Bond move to date I pull the following: I take a drink of my water, set it on the balcony, turn to her, tilt my head sideways and look directly into her eagerly flirtatious brown eyes and say “yeeeah…(shake head and smile) too easy”, then walk away. I don’t know how she reacted, because at that point I’m walking away like Wahlberg in ‘Shooter’.
I find Ryan at the bar and we depart for my loft just one last time, so I can go up and get the things I need for the night. At this point, I was extremely thankful for the encouraging comments on Facebook I was receiving after posting the situation. Between that, the texts and tweets, I knew I would always have a place to go. However, when I’m using my phone as a flashlight to get up my pitch black staircase and the result of all these text alerts is my battery dying, the situation (again no pun intended) can turn bleak quickly. I was fumbling up the dark stairwell, feeling the walls like it was braille for the placard that read ’11’. Finally doing so, I walked back down, treaded through the ankle deep water in the back of the building, got to my car, and for the second time that night, didn’t look back.
I had to work the next day, so I had plenty to distract me until 4pm, when I arrived back at the building to find to electrical maintenance trucks in the back, several generators going, and a Red Cross emergency vehicle double parked on Grand with several of my neighbors talking outside. I find the closest officer and ask what the situation is, to this response:
Officer: “It’s not looking too good”
Me: “I live here, can you elaborate further?”
Officer: “Oh yes, sorry. I don’t want to scare you, but they’re saying it could be up to 30 days.”
Me: “(jaw drops) how is that possible?”
Officer: “I was the main frame or something that blew, it could result in a whole re-wiring.”
Me: “Can I go in?”
Officer: “Yes, but we have orders to shut the building down at 8pm. Get what you need for as many days as you can.”
I continue to make my way up the 11 flights, this time with glow sticks to light my path. I grab the things I need, in addition to the trash that I don’t want to smell up the loft, even though it certainly doesn’t hold a candle (I’m all puns tonight!) to the smell outside the room, and head to my car. I come back to help those with lots of things and/or struggling to master the stairs and stay as long as the police let me to help my neighbors. It was a good thing this happened on a Friday night, because that meant none of us were there at the time. Zero injuries, but a lot of frustration.
I’ve been in touch with some of my neighbors. Four days after the incident, we all seem to know about the same thing, which is nothing new. Could be seven days, could be more. What I could not be happier about though, is that my worries are thankfully minimized due to the core around here I call my friends. I realize my move 5 months ago was certainly categorized as a ‘risk’; I gave up the world in Springfield, with nothing but potential and a city of friends, to pursue something I would always regret if I didn’t. I’ve always opened my doors to those wishing to come in, not for karma or worse, a bank of favors to certainly cash in on down the road, but because that’s how I was raised. I can’t begin to state how fortunate I am to have surrounded myself with friends up here, both old and new, that are willing to do the exact same thing for me. Whether it’s talking Crayola colors with my cousin’s daughter while staying at they’re house, or re-watching The Office while talking about the college days at a friends house, not a beat is missed.
That’s why I don’t want any pity or “I’m so sorry”. I’m doing just fine, and honestly? I want this*. Not to say I wanted my building to burn, that statement would certainly raise some eyebrows and probably bring KC’s Finest to my door for a couple questions…whenever I have a door again that is. What I mean by that is this:
I didn’t move up to Kansas City to go through the routine. Go to work. Go home. Go out. Find someone. Make Friends. Go to work. Pray for a Promotion. Same. Old. Boring. Garbage. Not for me.
I want a How I Met Your Mother story, the kind of story that can last 10+ seasons without anyone saying ‘GAH! Just get to the point!’ (which you may or may not be feeling, but since you’ve gotten this far voluntarily you’re just as much to blame). This story, like so many more before it, I hope to tell years from now to those that don’t have to pretend to care.
This may not be the most convenient path, but the paths worth taking seldom are. I’m living, and I’m still loving every minute of it. That’s in so much part thanks to my friends, each and every one of you. You’ve stood by me through every random decision or ‘out of the blue’ move I’ve ever made, a long list I know. I may currently and for the short term be in a position that could be classified as ‘homeless’, but as I stated in the very beginning. It’s because of you that I am anything but.
Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s past my temporary roommate’s bedtime and I must abide by the rules of this house.
*Secretly counting down the days until I can move out.