Once upon a time, I lived in Pittsburgh. After a couple of years, we packed our things in boxes and got ready to move again. A day or two before moving out of our lovely apartment, I woke up to a strange sound outside my bedroom door. Crack crack creeeeeeeeek. Tttssss shhh pshhhhh. I opened the door, and at that moment the hallway ceiling fell down.
I screamed bloody murder and slammed the door to stop the cloud of dust and debris from exploding into the bedroom. A chunk of the ceiling scraped up my arm, but other than that I was fine. Except for my sore throat from screaming. (It was quite a scream.)
The cleanup was annoying, and we kept saying to ourselves, “What are the odds this happens the week we’re moving out!?” Little did we know that this episode would repeat itself in an even more dramatic fashion about 15 months later.
Fast forward to Boston. Another lovely apartment. A week of Christmas vacation. Packing our bags, unplugging all electronics, and closing up shop for 9 days. A drive from Boston to Pittsburgh. A wonderful holiday with family and friends. A return trip from Pittsburgh back to Boston. Pulling up to our building in our friends’ car at 10pm on a Sunday.
Jon got out of the car first to unlock the apartment door and bring the first batch of bags inside. He took a little longer than normal. I got out of the car to start unloading, when Jon appeared from around the corner of the building. “We can’t go in there,” he said forcefully. “What do you mean? Why not?” My first thought was actually that something had flooded in the hallway. There’d been dripping in the hallway a few weeks before. “Our ceiling collapsed.”
At first there was disbelief. Did this actually happen…again? There was exhaustion; we had just driven 10 hours across four states. Where will we sleep? There was trying to piece things together. When did this happen? Was there any warning? What if we had been here? What if.
That began 12 days of living in strange places, negotiating with our building manager, and cleaning. Lots of cleaning. Those stories are coming up next. But looking back at this day, nearly 7 months later, I still can’t stop asking what if.
And seriously, if you know anyone who has had a ceiling fall down, even once, please tell me. We can’t be the only ones!