You learn that some people are nuts. One woman, who did not even live in our building, ran around the entire time talking nonsense (“those two buildings are connected right?” pointing to a single building with two entrances) taking pictures, and running after the firemen–all while smoking a cigarette.
During the first few minutes you learn that you harbor an absurdly impractical expectation of firefighter response times. (They should be running in while I’m running out!)
You learn that your three year old can sleep through a fire alarm (he only woke up when I picked him up).
You learn what you value. There’s very little time for contemplation.
You learn to appreciate warm summer nights.
You learn that it’s pretty difficult to back a full-sized firetruck out of the parking lot of an apartment complex.
You learn that sometimes you wish that there really was a fire, so that you wouldn’t have wasted an hour and a half of precious sleep.
You learn that someone smokes in the utility room where the alarm control is housed (cigarette butts everywhere).
You learn what the people who live above you look like. (Still haven’t figured out why their daughter can only practice her gymnastics in the light of the moon).
You learn that even fire alarms at 3 a.m. can sing the praises of God, and that while you are sitting on the concrete steps of the building across from yours, wearing nothing but your mismatched clothes, holding nothing but your family, having none of the things that have cost so much of your time and money–there can be peace.