One woman’s quest to make sense of a nonsensical world after losing her dream home and all her worldly possessions to a raging and sudden wildfire. Exploring the existence of God, our cultural discomfort with grief, what it means to be human as well as life in a 1967 Airstream trailer, Kristen Moeller shares her humanity, her spirit and her dark edge openly for herself as well as for the countless others who beg to be heard in their wild journey through this wacky world.
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The red shawl

Posted on: 6 Comments

A candle flickering, the sun rise turning the distant hill pink, Kirtan music playing on Pandora, a fresh cup of coffee at my side, my Mac warming on my lap – ahhh, the perfect way to start a morning. I have to peak between houses and over cars to glimpse that pink mountainside, but I can see it. Nature is out there. David just returned from the pool, now 5 minutes from our house, fresh and ready to start the day. We are living our new life in our sweet Artisan’s bungalow in the middle of a small mountain town. My system is settling and I no longer startle awake and wonder where I am. Many moment of fear gripped me in the first week in this house – what had we done? Where were we? How did we get here? Panic would fill me as I questioned every step that led us here. After being in transit for almost 7 months, to suddenly stop throws the system into confusion. In the weeks leading up to our move here, I was bursting with excitement – and yet I am sure it’s “normal” to experience the drop and question everything once again.

We don’t know what we will do going forward. We are trying on a life here, beginning to enjoy the conveniences of a life in a town. Finally exhaling. Yesterday, one of our builders sent us a picture of a dream house with soaring ceilings, walls of glass, beams throughout yet small in footprint. Suddenly, my settling system began to crave something else. Returning over and over to the picture, I wondered, “here? Are we supposed to be here? Are we supposed to be there on our land now so far away from this little hamlet?” And, then I gently remind myself, we don’t need to know right now.

Yesterday I finally turned in the first three chapters of my re-write to my ever-patient publisher for review. I grappled with crafting the ever-important opening to this second take on the topic of waiting. What do I really think now, so many years down the road and a lifetime of upheaval in this year alone? What can I really say that is new about waiting? Then, I realized I miss-placed my favorite red shawl and I took a detour.

In my gradual accumulation of clothing, there are a few items I have branded as “I would carry this out of a fire”. The shawl was one of these things. Much more than a measly pashmina, I discovered it in Santa Monica on my spring trip. The brick red seemed to work with everything, its weight comforted on airplanes and drafty rooms, it served as a light jacket whenever necessary. Suddenly, I realized it was gone, and began my feeble mental search for where I might have left it. Feeble I say as I have noticed (to my dismay) a certain decline in mental faculty. Simply, I cannot remember certain things and have moments where I completely blank out. So racking my brain, I couldn’t recollect where I might have left it. Vague notions started to come and I texted all my friends with whom I had spent recent time. The responses started coming back – “no shawl here”. I watched my reaction. I watched the roller coaster begin to roll. “Noooo. I don’t want to lose something I care about. No. No. No.” Glancing at my now meager closet, thinking of my past over-stuffed closets full of years of collecting a wardrobe, I see things that already I will put in the Goodwill pile. I have no desire to accumulate as before. Having a few fine pieces is enough. And yet, those few things seem to really matter. A lot.

This morning, with still one more place to check, I mourn my shawl. Will it turn up? Will I move on? I feel its warmth as a missing, craving the comfort of its weight on my chilled shoulders.

Has its substance dissolved into nothingness, as did my home and all my possessions? Are they floating out there in space to one-day reassemble into something else? Where do the ashes go? What do they become? Once solid, now particles in the air, my mind still searches for their form. Today, I place the dog dish on our Mexican tile floor and think of where I placed it in my old house. I see the splash marks from the water on the tile in a house that no longer exists. I hear a door open in my mind, yet know that door will never open again. Going downstairs here, my fingers run across the handrail that feels nothing like my old stairway. It seems each time, something clicks in my brain, “not that” it says. Usually, I leave this between my fingers and the rail to work out, and I continue on, but occasionally it stops me. Not that.

We have created a home here. I glance at all these possessions we have been lucky enough to accumulate and see my already formed attachments. Can I be with that it all is temporary? Can I be with that anything that brings me comfort can and will vanish into the void? Can I be with the change that is the only thing that is certain in this uncertain universe?

Can I be without my red shawl? Will I miss it like a limb? Will it turn up and lull me into the belief that I might not lose again? Will I search for it forever thinking maybe one day it some strange place it will reemerge perhaps in a different form but familiar nonetheless?

 

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6 Responses

  1. Sara says:

    I GET it. The existential angst of the human condition. Thanks for your fine words and description of our mutual struggles.

  2. If your red shawl does not turn up, I’d love to make you one. Let me know. I’ve been looking for a way to express my love and appreciation for who you are and have been for me. xxSandy

  3. Brigette says:

    Yeah I did the same thing with the necklace I was wearing the day the fire explored. Honestly the necklace wasn’t anything special, it was more that it had survived. So I looked and looked and looked and pretty much figured that it somehow had gotten tossed. I was over at my friends house and thought I would look in the drawers of his downstairs bathroom since I lived there for a month and sure enough there the necklace was with some of my other things that I hadn’t realized were missing yet.

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