Where am I? Why I was MIA for a long period
Dear friends, patrons, and readers,
I’m sorry for having gone MIA for such a long period. I’m ashamed for not keeping all of you but just my patrons informed. Today, I rectify this.
TL;DR: Work, studies, and volcanoes.
First, I got overwhelmed by my end-of-degree project, which I needed to finish. I was dragging it out for too long, and I needed total concentration on it.
Secondly, I got promoted at my full-time job and became the studio’s Technical Director. The new project was way more challenging than anticipated and required my full attention after finishing my university project.
And lastly, on the 19th of September at 14:10, a volcano erupted on my home island La Palma. I currently live in Tenerife and hadn’t had to evacuate, but my parents did have to.
The last few months were stressful, and my anxiety rocketed sky-high. My parents lost their home due to the volcanic eruption, as did my sister lost her second home. I was in the process of moving definitely to Tenerife but had left most of my collections and memorabilia there with the intention of bringing them over these Christmas holidays. Now everything’s lost under a 14 to 20 meters thick lava flow.
My parents were living with me in my small flat in Tenerife until they could bear to face the sight of the devastation. Obviously, having them with me generated even more anxiety and stress. On the one hand, I was relieved for them to be save at home; but, on the other hand, their needs and their impact on my usual routine only added more stress.
Roughly two weeks before the volcano started to relent, my parents moved back to the island of La Palma. They managed to rent a small semidetached house with sight over the new volcano.
On the 24th of December, the volcanic eruption was officially declared over. Devastation, however, isn’t. Around 2400 people have lost their homes. About 5000 more are still unable to return to theirs. Returning back to a relative normality will take time, even years.
My sister, her partner, and I visited the island and my parents for our father’s birthday on the 7th of December, barely a week before the eruption came to a halt. My sister and her boyfriend stayed with my parents while I had to travel back to Tenerife for work.
Fortunately, we all managed to come over for the holidays and to start the healing process.
We all are healthy, or, at least, our overall health didn’t suffer too much despite the circumstances. Our mental health, however, was obviously declining. Over many weeks, I could barely sleep, and when I did, I didn’t feel well-rested. Slowly, yet steadily, we manage to see a faint light at the end of the tunnel.
My parents lost a beautiful retirement place with many flowers, fruit trees, and an ample veggie garden. Their old Canarian-styled house with life-long memorabilia was reduced to rubble. My parents had to leave with the clothes on their backs and could never go back and retrieve a single item.
My sister and her partner lost their caravan they restored into a beautiful vacation home. He did a fantastic job working their part of the patch of land. All for naught…
I, as mentioned above, I lost childhood memorabilia, valuable collections, and the house I built by myself. Several scores of books, whole collections of them, were evaporated in an instant. My vast comic collection, including some first editions, went up in flames. My priceless stamp and postcard collection, pulverized into oblivion. My carefully stored miniature model train set until I’d had a place to exhibit it, rolled over by tons of lava. My vintage computers, reduced to their elements. My grandfather’s old mechanical typewriter, deleted from this world. My old VHS collection, gone with the wind. My gaming consoles and the whole game catalog, including an original NES and many valuable games, destroyed. A small collection of crystals and precious stones I collected on my travels, returned to earth. My childhood medals, prizes, accolades… everything lost…
Ignorant me, I left all my valuables there until I managed to get my own flat in Tenerife. Only a small collection of movies and series on DVDs and Blu-ray survived. I brought them over bit by bit.
My losses go easily into the hundreds of thousands. But the material loss doesn’t hurt as much as most were attached to childhood memories. My parents lost way more… A carefree retirement. They lost their unencumbered and debt-free patch of land and house, vast collections of items brought together from their lifelong travels. An extensive rose garden has become a moonscape…
The future of Space Highways
I still love writing on Space Highways, and I will keep publishing it. However, my inspiration and concentration have hit rock bottom right now. I strive to finish revising all chapters of the arc The Awakened in a few months. Meanwhile, I’ll try to finish the second arc, The Queen and the King of the Space Highways.
However, given the circumstances and my current mental health, I cannot promise hard dates. I’d wish I could, but I don’t want to promise something I’m unable to hold.
I hate making excuses for my absence. And I do know I should have kept all of you in the loop, not just the patrons.
I don’t need pity, nor do I want it. I haven’t published this text to receive empty words of charity. If you feel the need to help, please, donate to the Red Cross (https://www2.cruzroja.es/-/ayuda-afectados-volcan). I am donating 100% of my monthly Patreon income from September 2021 to June 2022 to the Red Cross.
And please, refrain from making the utterly despicable “Why does someone build under an active volcano?” question.
Like many other archipelagos around the world, the Canary Islands are of volcanic origins.
The same idiotic question about buying a house near a river can be asked. Floods? Nah, not happening to me… until the subsequent heavy rainfalls.
Defining “active” volcano. An active volcano es when magma pushes through the Earth’s crust and creates an opening through which lava flows. With this definition, there was no active volcano until the moment of the eruption.
The volcano was awaited to happen, but not where it ultimately breached the surface. Instead of erupting in the quiet south, the magma found its way to a densely populated area. The last eruption in the same valley was in 1949, with a low population density and southwards. In fact, since the 17th century, all but one volcano erupted south of the valley. No wonder everyone, including the volcanologists, was surprised.
Now time has passed, and I’m still healing. Refreshing two weeks-long vacations helped reset my nerves, anxiety, and stress. Finally, I’m able to sleep without nightmares. I’m ready to return to the Space Highways. It will be slow, but I’m still completely committed to the Space Highways.
As mentioned above, I am now concentrating on the last complete revision of the arc “The Awakened” and finishing “The Queen and the King of the Space Highways” before starting the third arc and book.
And, again, thank you for being awesome patrons, readers, and friends.
Siggy Simon Jr.