house fire, loss, moving house, recovery, transitions, Wildfire
Today was the last day we did not have a temporary house. At midnight tonight our lease on the 6,000 square foot “Brady Bunch” House went into effect. I wanted to drive over at 11:50, arriving at the stroke of midnight but figured that I might alarm the neighbors. Instead, I sat at my computer facing the never ending task of inventorying all of the things we had before the fire. From that list we must identify what we will replace to make our lives feel normal. It is unlikely that we will have enough insurance money to replace all of what we had. Some things we could not replace even though we want to, they were totally unique in the world. Other things we could but certainly don’t want to replace.
This inventory-decide-purchase process has been all-consuming. I have come to think of these purchasing decisions as making islands of areas that are familiarly functional.Some of the purchases are functional and some are familiar. We appreciate both.
Because of the size of the Brady Bunch house it will be a long swim between the islands. That house may eventually become familiar but for now I imagine dashing between islands. The islands include our bed, an office and the kitchen.
Right now, I cannot say the bedroom is an island but soon it will be. Our new bed left New Jersey on a truck Friday. The linens exactly like what we had were ordered off of ebay are here, unopened. I even sprang for a cheap bench to go at the foot of the bed.
The office is a bit better decked out than the bedroom. We bought two L shaped desks. A few months before the fire, I had gotten a new desk chair so I reordered what I had. My spouse had an ancient one that had been a fantastically expensive chair back in the day. It hardly showed any wear but he had to buy a new one today. As we repopulate the house, we have “gone green” the best we could. I found two full-spectrum LED lamps for our desks—12 watts replacing 125 and without toxic chemicals like the compact fluorescents. We have our old computers. My spouse made it out of the fire with all of his. I only made it out with the box and a couple of hard drives but that is a lot.
The kitchen is decked out. If we get lost we will have to go eat or clean up from eating. Somehow we both kept focusing on the kitchen, which I suppose is appropriate since it is the center of the home. Tonight for dinner I made a plump fluffy omelet in my new, replacement omelet pan. I loved the omelet.1 pan so much we now have the omelet.2 pan. I leaned when I got the omelet.1 that you did not fold omelets; you let them fold themselves when you rolled them out of the pan. Thank you, Jacques Pépin, for an enlightening cooking show on making omelets. I have mastered rolling omelets out of both omelet.1 and omelet.2 pans. Now we have an island with eggs.
Tomorrow we begin to move and will be out of the hotel by Monday morning. It is astonishing how much stuff we have accumulated in the past month. I imagined that we would go to the new temporary house like we had come to the hotel. Two suitcases, 2 computers, 3 hard drives, 15 pounds of dog food, a dog bed, 4 plastic cups and 3 1/2 pairs of boots but that is not the case. I think it is a good thing to move from the hotel where we have been happy and secure to the new temporary house with some of our new things that helped us feel happy and secure here. That way we don’t have the feeling of starting yet again. We are bringing us—our pans, our pillows, our computers and our desks.
It is now 3:23 am, 3 hours and 23 minutes into our new lease, as it were, on life. I am not sure how this is going to turn out but I know we have islands that we will recognize. From those islands we can build bridges to a new life. Hopefully there will be life rafts when we need them.