The fire happened 158 days ago. We have posted 158 entries to the blog. We have missed making entries a few days. Some of the posts are photos but in all we have written more than enough words to march from the house down to the highway where our mailbox still stands. The mailbox is just under 1 mile. We have written 1 and 1 tenth of a mile in words.
Both my spouse and I write. As professors part of our job is writing. When we started the blog neither of us had any idea where the blog would go or where our lives would go. It is 10:45 pm now. On the night of the fire at 10:45 pm my spouse had fallen asleep weary with the events of the day. I was sitting on the floor writing to our family and friends telling them what happened and how we were.
The fire came on Thursday at 4:24 pm. Our security company called us to alert us to a fire alarm event and that the proper authorities had been notified. Both our upstairs and downstairs fire alarms went off at the same time. We did not expect that the house would have survived but we were vaguely hopeful. Mostly we just tried not to think about it, trying to avoid the onslaught of what we knew in our hearts was going to happen.
On Saturday there was a meeting of the “fire affected” individuals with the County government including the Sheriff and the Fire Chief. We arrived at the meeting a bit late. We did not mean to be as late as we were but we had intentionally avoided getting there during the crush of everyone arriving. We still did not know if our house had burned. I had an emotionless knot in in my stomach. We talked about finding out while we drove over. I told my spouse that the thing I most did not want to face was going to a list on the wall and running my fingers down it until I did or did not come to my house. I could hardly prepare myself to do it but I also wanted to know. 48 hours had passed and we wanted to know. We knew but we wanted to know for sure.
When we arrived at the meeting a neighbor looked up and saw us and put her hand to her heart and made a slight shake of her head. She thought we knew and it was a symbol of sadness shared as her house had burned too. In fact it was how we learned that our house burned. A simple gesture and a small movement of a head. I will forever be grateful for finding out in that gentle way. I cannot imagine any better way to be told. No word was needed from me. It was a non-verbal gesture made from 20 feet away. I had the information I needed and the privacy to try to understand it.
Rebuilding our house is going slowly. We are still not started. We still don’t have completed plans. We still don’t have an engineering stamp that we need to take it to the County for our permit. We still don’t know if we will begin in the winter or have to wait until spring. Our neighbors have foundations, walls and now windows.
I understand why we have dirt and they have windows but it is not something I want to need to understand. We had boundary problems that are resolved but there was a whole lot of surveying and walking and flagging and then trying to discover how to fit a house on the funny little bit of land we have. So we have not yet taken on the digging and the concrete and the nails and the walls so we can have windows too.
What we have taken on is this task of writing. We are building our lives with words that are healing for us and offer hope and solace to others who have faced similar things.
The fire burned 1,000 acres or 1 1/2 square miles. We have now written enough words to travel one leg of the perimeter of the area the fire burned. Through our words we know our fire. We shall continue to write enough words to march the entire perimeter of the fire. We will write our way around the fire arriving back at our lives again.