I woke up to Saturday to my iPhone buzzing with the warning I now attribute to an AMBER alert. Half-awake, I stumble out of bed to check the warning and silence the ringing. I’m staring at:

first screenshot
screenshot taken later

That’s exciting.

Confusion ensues as I debate with Monji whether this is real or not. We decide that if it was a drill, they probably wouldn’t say “THIS IS NOT A DRILL”. We decide it’s time to scramble.

The first decisions are made. I grab my wallet, phone, and room key and hustle outside. We don’t see anyone until we get to the lobby which is active at this point, people pacing around, lots talking on phones.

I ask the person at the desk what we should do and where the nearest shelter is. She responds that she doesn’t know and advises us to go to our rooms until there is more information, but we decide to take a seat in the lobby and discuss our options.

We don’t know where the shelter is at so we half-joke that we should go into the closed-in cement staircase. We open the stairwell door revealing 3 families already huddled in there.

For me, this is where shit started to feel pretty real.

I FaceTime my fiancée to tell her what’s going on and tell her that no matter what happens I love her very much. I text my parents and my sister the same.

The next few minutes were a whirlwind of feelings that I don’t think I’ve ever really felt before. I can’t really articulate all the steps, but it netted out at “I guess I’m ok if this is it.”

Sitting in the lobby, existential crisis having passed, we checked Twitter and the news for any updates of of the situation. The first reports of “all clear” come in with a small wave of relief. The day gets a lot better after we receive:

second screenshot
an exciting 38 minutes

The rest of the day is a bit more surreal, emotional, and reflective than any other day. A trip to the beach, good food, and new friends provide a healthy mix of distractions and chances to casually reflect.

Having arrived back home to San Francisco last night, I’m nursing what feels like an emotional hangover. A quick shift from “all the feels” back to my normal routine. The specific emotions are fading, but I hope I don’t forget them.

I’m thankful that I’m lucky enough to not have to deal with this feeling on a regular basis and I’ve gained a new sense of empathy for those that do. Strangely, I might also be thankful for having had this experience. It was quite a reminder to be grateful for every day, take time to live in the present, and live your life so that if the world were to end, you might be ok with that.