After spending the large part of the last 48 hours in bed--or rather, moving from the bed to the chair to the couch back to the bed again in an endless cycle--I got up and made a batch of chocolate chip cookies with Catherine. It seemed like kind of an optimistic thing to do. I mean, if you're not going to hang around to eat the cookies, why even bother making them? Terribly life affirming.
Of the dozen or so books I've finished in the last week, Population: 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time was one of the two or three I actually liked. Basic story: Michael Perry returns to his home town after years away, and joins the volunteer fire department. His reintroduction to his home town is colored by the fact that he re-acquaints himself with his old haunts and neighbors primarily through emergency response calls. Mostly well written, a little choppy because it wasn't written from front to back, but instead as separate essays. A little heavy in the town history section, but other than, a pretty good read.
It made me feel better about the people who picked up my dad when he had a heart attack. I've always wondered what they thought, how they treated him, what they said when it looked like my dad wasn't going to make it, if they thought they had the power to pull him through, or if they knew deep down that he was going to pass over in the medivac helicopter. And I've wondered what it must have been like for everyone who worked on Mark, who was a volunteer fire fighter himself. Your beeper goes off, you look at the address of the emergency, and what do you think? What happens when you get there and you not only recognize the dead guy, but you went to high school with him, and probably went on a fire call with him a couple days before? Mr. Perry might not have given me the answers to my specific questions, but he actually came pretty damn close.
And I was thinking about it all again when the two fire fighters were tromping around the house this evening (the carbon monoxide detector in our bedroom went off). Emergency people are kind of scary, suddenly there's this big burst of testosterone in your house, boots banging on the floor, voices ten miles deeper than our own bouncing on the walls. Several years ago when I had to take an ambulance ride, I felt as if my house had been invaded, all these huge guys with loud feet, moving our furniture, demanding information from me, totally overwhelming my life, and even though they were there to fix me, I hated them, every single one of them (and undoubtedly told them so). But tonight, I was watching these two guys, listening to them simultaneously contradict each other and reassure us, I felt a little more benevolent about the whole rescue guy situation. After they were done checking our air, they were just going to go back to the station, write it up, maybe eat a few of the cookies Catherine gave them, and this would become only some small moment in their work life, a non-emergency that they probably wouldn't remember a month from now. And that felt kind of good, knowing it was just something insignificant and normal and not even very interesting, not even worth writing a book about.