We had only been a couple for a few months. The BF (decades away from being the Husband) & I only knew one other male couple in the world, friends from the theatre world.
Our first apartment was a breathtaking find, the top floor of a late 19th century mansion in the Browne’s Addition neighborhood of Spokane. Our living room was the vast former ballroom with a large balcony, & the rest of our digs were the former servants quarters, a warren of small rooms tucked under the eaves. This section of the apartment ended with a large screened in summer porch. We paid an unheard of $200 a month to live in this luxury. Our friends thought we were nutty to spend so much.
We wanted our male-couple friends to see our unusual, exclusive penthouse, & they were invited to brunch on a beautiful, warm spring Sunday morning. This couple was impressed with the living quarters & the meal. As we walked them to their automobile & hugged good-bye, we all looked at the western horizon. In the distance, the sky was a curtain of an uncommon grey & green. We all remarked at the weird weather coming our way.
We would soon learn that at 8:33am, Mount Saint Helens had blown its top in an unprecedented (in modern times) eruption of an active volcano in the PNW. Within an hour, the city’s street lights had come on & by noon it looked like midnight. At 3pm the ash was mid-calf deep & covered everything. We were getting conflicting directives from emergency authorities: don't drive, wear a mask or protection- it will get in your lungs, don’t sweep it, don’t get it wet, hose it down, sweep it into piles, don't panic, it can kill you. The fire stations issued masks. We were quick to get to the store & stock up on wine & pizza.
We spent 3 days locked in our place, listening to music, drinking wine, & making love. The ash would eventually permeate everything. It got into my considerably large album collection, including all of my obscure Original Cast recordings of Broadway & West End Musicals. The ash got into the sleeves of the LPs & scratched the vinyl. The volcano’s spewing would lay waste to my music & ruin my future husband’s work computer (which was the size of a large room). We could spot drifts of the ash on the side of roads in Eastern Washington for decades. The only good news: the ash was the perfect compound for pottery making, & an entire Mt. St. Helens ashtray industry was born.
The eruption was the deadliest & most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the USA. 57 people were killed; 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railways, 185 miles of highway were destroyed. The eruption caused a massive debris avalanche, reducing the elevation of the mountain's summit from 9,677 feet to 8,365 feet & replacing it with a 1 mile wide horseshoe-shaped crater. The ash was carried east all the way to Europe. It made for spectacular sunsets for more than a year.
That night on May 18th, 1981, when we went to bed & physically expressed our love for each other, my future husband, bit my ear gently & whispered: “Did the earth move for you, baby?"
We have a peek-a-boo view of the Mount Saint Helens from our place- Post Apocalyptic Bohemia, & we spy it often while driving around Portland. Mount Hood, also an active volcano is even closer to Portland. It is one of 5 active volcanoes in a hundred miles of our house. The Husband & I have aged 33 years since the big boom. We are considerably older & not nearly as frisky, but you never know when the mountain will blow again... "Did the earth move for you, baby?"