What would we do without our dogs?  Seriously.  My dogs keep me sane – along with all of you who read my blog J.  Ever since the fire, my back has been wrecked.  I have had massages, chiropractic treatments, begun walking again, stretch daily, hot tub regularly… Yesterday morning, after yoga and stretching, I bent slightly and it tweaked.  I fell to the floor sobbing.  Seriously.  The emotional pain is heavy enough – do we really need to add physical pain too?  Today I am seeing DJ at Evergreen Center for Therapeutic Massage, a practitioner who helped Steve Wilson get back to normal after his back injury.  Hoping, hoping, hoping.  It’s my sacrum – and whatever it is down there, it is holding on for dear life!  Shit howdy.  It gives me even more compassion for chronic pain sufferers like my dear husband and my father who have dealt with back pain for years. Back pain gives a sense of instability.  I can’t count on my core to hold me.  I can’t stand up straight.  The pain is sharp and stabbing.  I feel older than my years as I hobble around… Hmmm.  So glad there are no metaphorical or metaphysical connections there!
Three weeks ago today, I began what was to be a full day of conference calls before my trip to California.  Nothing seemed amiss, I had no premonitions of life altering forever, I just knew I needed to pace myself so as not to allow stress to overtake me during my busy day….
Were my nightmares of selling our house a premonition?  Was my declaration that 2012 be the year to release attachments an invisible force?  Was the resurgence of my depressive state in January and February a glimpse into my future?  Does God hate me?  Am I karmicly cursed?  Did I not have enough character already?  Do we live in a meaningless and random universe?  I will never truly know.  What I do know is I get to choose the meaning I assign to this – and as always, the crucial question is, does my interpretation empower me?  Right now, the jury is still out. 
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.  Walt Whitman
At some point I will write about the metaphor of fire. I will write about the transformation that occurred and is occurring. I will write about who I became in the process and the multitude of gifts that enhanced my character.  It is still too early for that. 
Of course I can see the gifts of having community.  Yesterday we wrapped up a second full (and productive) day of site clean up. We were again supported by a crew full of friends as well as those I had never met.  All performing great acts of service as they sifted through ash and rubble, avoided stepping on the various hazards – nails, sharp edges of metal, piles of glass…  Quite a few times during the day, I imagined doing this alone – and stopped dead in my tracks.  No way.  Our community is carrying us.  That is for sure. 
This morning begins the second clean up with another crew of angels.  Today, I also am running a virtual writing day with my author clients.  I will lead a conference call at 9am, then head out to the site.  Today, I won’t write with them.  They understand. 
Last night, I attended a gathering of the Four Mile Canyon fire survivors.  They opened their meeting – and their arms - to us North Fork folks, welcoming us into the club that no one ever would choose to join.  Being so early in our process, I was the only North Forker to attend.  Fortunately, I brought my friend Jessica with me. 
They are a lovely, close-knit group of people who have grown and seasoned in ways they never wanted to over the past 19 months.  And, in a room full of 40 people, only a few have re-built.  A couple others bought somewhere else, but the majority is still on the long journey back to “home”.  They are dealing with insurance issues, a flood over their ravaged land that threatened to wash away all the soil and a myriad of other delays.  One shared with me about his PTSD, his ongoing fear and how he still hasn’t returned to a feeling of “normal”.  It was enlightening, sobering and at times too much for me to process.  I would give Jessica a signal, and we would take a breather outside under the cool Boulder sky. 
Slept in!  Until 6:35am, that is.  And, woke up twice in the night.  At 4am, I thought I wasn’t going to go back to sleep.  I did – and dreamt that parts of the house were still standing.  I was attending a concert and decided to check my office for my tickets – lo and behold the wall with my bulletin board was still there and I found my concert tickets.  As the dream went on, more and more of my house was standing.  For some unknown reason, we lit a fire in the woodstove.  Then little fires started popping up places, one at the neighbors, one in another stove that we hadn’t lit and we had to run.  I didn’t want to leave it, again.
Tomorrow we will do our second clean up at the site with another crew of angels.  We will sift through the rest of the rubble of the house (still looking for David’s ring and perhaps a few more treasures) then we will move to David’s workshop – an 18x20 building with a loft, full of his tools, reloading equipment, old barn wood and antique furniture.  It is a disaster. 
I wonder when I will stop saying, “I can’t believe it”.  When will the new “normal” seem like normal? There will always be a line of demarcation: life before the fire and life after the fire.  I realize that the disbelief is a protective mechanism – probably somewhere between bargaining and denial.  Last night, I engaged in the “I can’t believe it” a little further than I have as of yet.  I allowed myself to really not believe it.  I imagined my house still standing, my life still on the track that it was, my oasis patiently waiting for my return.  Just for a moment I indulged.  Just for a moment, I wanted to forget, or return to normal.  I wanted to go back. 
The craving of “home” is strong and makes me weep right now.  That deep bone level craving, I have been keeping at bay.  Home.  My want for home, my need for home, my longing for home.  Today, David is driving to New Mexico with the amazing Chris Meehan to pick up our “new” 1967 Airstream trailer.  Home is on the way! 
Have I talked about the irony of the weather on my birthday?  On April 2nd, it drizzled then turned to snow, when a mere week earlier that would have prevented the fire.  Today it is overcast again.  We are socked in, in a cloud.  We mountain folk need the moisture  – and our parched, scorched land needs it desperately.  We also are hoping for rain to clean the sooty stains that mar the earth, rocks and turn the barren landscape into a filthy mess.  Uninhabitable is what it looks like right now.  So, yes, even though the moisture came 1 week too late, yes please to the rain gods.
Items spun through my mind again this morning and late last night.  I remember a metal raven sculpture with cute fat feet, a handmade jewelry box full of my silver bracelets – a collection I didn’t wear but had for eons.  In that box, were a few other treasures including a voice recording of my first mentor, Susan Hansen who died way too early for many of us.  Now, I will only hear her voice in my head. 
My new morning routine seems to be getting up before the sun (even though I REALLY want to sleep more), making my coffee (finally bought a new French press – and it’s red), sipping it in the one favorite mug I carried out with me, and writing my experience.  I wonder if I will run out of words to describe the various twists and turns in this uninvited adventure.  And, I beg your forgiveness in advance if I repeat myself.  Not only am I sleep deprived, but my memory capability is seriously diminished.  “CRS” they say (Can’t Remember Shit J).  And, I know, it’s to be expected.
Besides missing the big thing (my house), I miss the little things.  My little creature comforts or even just basic essentials.  Thank God I have a cuticle trimmer as I am seeming to bite my cuticles more than ever…  But where is my clear nail polish, my sunscreen, my small strainer to drain the coffee grinds, the silver spoons that fit just the right amount of agave for my coffee? Where is my favorite chapstick, my paddle brush, my supply of gold hair elastics?  Where are my delicate laundry bags to wash my bras, my favorite pair of socks, my other slipper?  Where is my purple hat my dad gave me, my wooly scarf I wore even in the summer?  Where is my purple down throw I snuggled with in my living room?  Where is my body shop lotion that they stopped making, my leopard flower vase, my angel cards?  Where is the soap stone box that David gave me, the puppy picture of Jaxson, my hiking boots?  Where is my Blendtec blender with which I kept up with my necessary vegetable consumption, my new green protein powder from Whole Foods, my huge supply of almond butter, my mint tea?  Where are my sweatpants, my leopard gloves (hear a theme?), my Bose sound dock?   
It’s hard to believe that it has been 2 weeks since the fire.  At this time 2 weeks ago, I was just beginning to stir and thinking about my full day ahead.  Since I haven’t shared past Day 2 with you yet, I am going to do that now.
I realize I don’t want to think about those days.  It’s easier at this point to share where I am now, but there is a chunk of the story missing. 
David returned with a raging migraine on the morning of 28thon an early flight.  (He is blogging too at www.northforkashes.com.)  I wasn’t sure how our reunion would be.   Would I weep in his arms, would I fall down, would we argue?  We greeted each other calmly and further cemented the team we have become over our 17 years of marriage.  Stress (as I am sure you know) can do bad things to a couple.  Grief can rip a marriage apart.  As my client Sandra Champlain reminds me, we all experience grief differently; we are in different places at different times; and we can easily make each other wrong and have misunderstandings.  David and I promise to be gentle with each other and to be aware of our differences in processing.  We promise to be a team. 
I miss my morning routine where David and I brewed our French press coffee (for which we were famous among our friends), and sipped the brew in our hearty mugs as I sat in my leopard chaise by the window, and David sat on (our brand new!) couch with Bill purring on his lap. We watched the world come alive from our vista and did our morning “meditation” (which for us was reading Gangaji).
Recently I have been waking up before the sun, which is not my usual M.O. A friend asked if I was meditating, I said “Yeah right!” (actually I said something like “F-off” because she is the type of friend to whom I can say anything...isn't that right, Kristina Hall) Right now, I do not want to be with the quiet. My brain, which throughout my life has not always been my friend, wakes me and tells me there are things to do, things to figure out, and things to think about. There certainly are lists of things we need to write. Much of the key to how our insurance experience goes depends upon lists of excruciating detail. We must remember every little and large (and everything in between) thing we had. We must document all of it with a description, price and date of purchase. We are talking about things collected over a lifetime – some priceless due to the sentimental value, some difficult to price due to the eclecticism, some we will probably forget and remember in the middle of the night or some other inopportune moment months or years after our claim has been filed. The pressure of “getting it right” wakes me up early, yet the list is the one thing I resist the most.