The Friday before last, our neighbors' house caught fire and ours suffered some slight smoke damage.

Bedroom soot and my now even-less-white cons

No one was hurt and our insurance company has been incredibly helpful. In fact, our damage has been cleaned up in a week by a professional cleaning crew and a dry cleaner. Right now, we're just happy to be sleeping back in bedroom again instead of camping out in my tiny studio, and we're thankful we didn't have to deal with anything beyond superficial damage. We feel terrible for our neighbors, whose house will have to be gutted. 

A couple of positive things came from this experience:

-For the first time in my life, I got to witness a real live fire crew in action in front of me, with the trucks and big hoses and everything.

-Our house is probably a little cleaner now that it was to begin with.

-The cleaning crew had to run ozone machines in our house on the last night to get rid of any remaining smoke smell, so our insurance company paid for us to stay in a hotel in town that night. Jesse found a great deal on a really nice one downtown. It actually felt like we were on vacation for night, plus the view was amazing!
The hotel view and Jesse....who's also taking a photo...

-This last one is long, so bear with me. You know that website, the burning house, where people post photos of their most precious items that they would grab in case a fire broke out? I stumbled upon it a few weeks back and determined what things I would include. This is the mental list I formed at the time:

my laptop (for all of the photos, illustration files, and documents)
my back-up drive (for older files not on my laptop),
a few sketchbooks
my engagement ring (I always wear my wedding band, but don't always wear my engagement ring)
my grandmother's ring
my wallet (for credit cards, id, etc)
my glasses (I mainly wear contact, but am blind as a bat, so this would be more for practical purposes)
possibly my favorite pair of shoes

Well, I was home when the fire broke out next door. I heard my neighbor scream and saw puffs of smoke start to billow through our bedroom walls. Not knowing if our house would be engulfed next, I decided I should try to save a few of our things. That's the moment I realized how silly my above list was. All I could think about was how fast I needed to get out of the house. Luckily, I was wearing my glasses and engagement ring at the time, so those went with me regardless. The only other items I consciously thought to save were my laptop and my bag with my wallet and phone in it, and probably only because they were sitting next to me at the time. I didn't care about my favorite pair of shoes, I just put on a pair that were close by and easy to slip on and didn't even think about risking going upstairs for my back-up drive or my sketchbooks. The same with my Grandmother's ring. While standing outside, still not knowing whether the fire had spread to our house, I surprisingly wasn't sad at all at the prospect of losing all of its contents. Not the vintage stuff we've collected that can't just be easily re-bought; not my carefully curated collection of clothes and shoes; not even all of my drawings, paintings and sketchbooks. For those, I simply thought, oh well, now I'll just have to create more....and make them better. Maybe it's all of the Thoreau and Emerson I read in high school, but I remember thinking, those are just things, I don't need them to be happy. What made me happy was calling Jesse immediately on my phone, telling him what had happened and just hearing his voice.

Luckily, we didn't end up losing anything and who knows how I would have felt after the immediate shock wore off. Plus, I'll admit, while standing on that sidewalk I do remember thinking how glad I was to still have my laptop.... so, yeah, there's that. Jesse also made fun of me later because I didn't think to grab any of his belongings, and he's made a point of how showing me where his back-up hard drive is stored. 

Like I mentioned before, things are pretty much back to normal now at our house...or as normal as it can be when you're moving to another city in six days. Yep, only six days until Baltimore and we still have so much packing to do!

This past week...a.k.a. Why I'm Glad We Have Home Insurance

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  1. wow glad to hear you and your home made it ok. good luck with the move!

  2. That must have been so scary yet kind of exciting at the same time. Im so glad no one was hurt though and i feel especiall bad for your poor neighbours. Im a bit wierd i think and would probably quite enjoy the whole Pheonix experience of starting all over again (infact i quietly fantasise about doing a bit of a Michael Landy... or a Britney and shaving off my hair, just for the experience) but i reckon getting over that whole trauma of finding your supposedly safe place destroyed would take a while more to overcome then the sadness of loosing your stuff. I witnessed a pretty traumatic crime about a decade ago and im still not over it even though the wounds and scars are gone and justice has been done. Its wierd how emotionally powerful events like this are. Its not just stuff being lost, its that feeling of safety and 'home'.

    I hope things sort themselves out very soon for everyone involved.

  3. Thanks, Julia!

    And thanks for such a thoughtful, interesting comment, Lianne. I know what you mean about the excitement of starting over completely from scratch. It's something I think about from time to time, too. I'm glad we didn't have to deal with the destruction (or at least only a bit of it) that can go along with that, though. I do notice in the weeks since, that's I've been extra jumpy when I hear anything that sounds like a fire alarm or if I notice any smoke at all (even from my neighbor's grill). I do hope that's not a lasting effect and will go away in time.


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