I’m sitting here trying to figure out what to feel.
About an hour and a half ago, as I was making a pot of tea after doing the morning chores, my cell phone starting blaring the way it does when there is a civil defense message. Usually these are flood warnings but it was a bright and sunny morning in the middle of a drought so I was a bit puzzled.
I picked up my phone and there was the message BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. TAKE IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. Yeah. Nice. Fuck.
One part of you just wants to say: well, what’s the point of taking shelter, if it really hits there is nothing that will save you. Plus, this can’t really be happening right? Right?
Then the other part kicks in and says: I want to live. I want my daughter to live. Then the other part says: yes but do you really want to live if everything you love is dead? Then you start thinking about shelter.
We’re already inside a house but its a frail wooden contraption with lots of windows. It’s not much shelter when you think about fireballs. Is there time to get to a more sturdy shelter?? What is happening? My brother has a solid concrete semi-bunker sort of building but it’s a 40 minute drive away. Try calling the brother. The phone doesn’t seem to working. Probably jammed with everyone calling everyone. Shelter…. There are a lot of caves and lava tubes in the vicinity of the house. Think of the nearest one. Get in the truck with the daughter and the dogs. Just go. Hopefully this is all a big joke. But let’s not assume anything. Nothing on the newspaper websites. Phone line is busy at the Civil Defense office. Nobody picks up at the Police Department. Drive to the cave. No follow up messages. Maybe there is no missile?
But let’s just do this thing. Climb down in the cave. Think about how the cave could collapse on you if it really happened. Listen to the water dripping off the cave ceiling and look at the way the walls of the cave are sculpted in a purple pattern like wind over water. Wait. Think. Daughter is playing solitaire on her phone. No cell phone reception in the cave of course. Wait a bit more. Tell daughter: “Well,this is going to be interesting however it turns out, but the best case scenario is that somebody messed up and sent out that alert by accident.” She says, “Yeah.” Climb out of cave to get cell reception. Finally there’s a story in the Washington Post saying that it was a false alert. Breathe again. Drive home.
Not sure if I’m happy that I’m not going to be blown up today or really, really angry or if I’m going to cry. All of it. And my brother is teasing me about needing to stock my cave. I might do that actually. I’m traumatized, is the truth. Who to blame for this and how did it happen? Does blame even begin to cover this? Aren’t we all to blame for allowing ourselves to get to this point, where this was even feasible? What is wrong with us?? It is all so not funny.