The smoke lingers

My ambition in life is to someday be the person my dog thinks I am. Emily Maughan

The last few nights have been rough.  Or more correctly, it’s the mornings that stink.  I seem to be harkening back to the early days and my pattern of waking up at 4am to get an early start on worrying.  My mind races with all that has to be done, isn’t being done, should be done.  All the things I keep forgetting.  The clock is ticking on the insurance paperwork and we are barely making any headway.  We do it in fits and starts and between David’s crazy travel schedule, relocating yet again, and general life busyness, it continues to fall to the wayside.  And, we have initiated the exciting (yes) and daunting (certainly) process of rebuilding.   

We need a home.  It is time to turn burgeoning thoughts into reality and break ground.  We need to have a future to live in to.  We have hired an architect and a builder and are beginning to get bids on our plans.  We hope this can be moving forward while we take our break from Colorado for the month of August.  Planning on being vagabonds through July, away for August, counting on cooler living in September and October when we return to Flame.  Then we will pack up again and go who knows where when the snow starts falling for real until our home is complete. 

Having never built a house before, we don’t really know what we are in for.  This reminds me of another faux pas in dealing with us fire people.  Yes, it is an exciting prospect to build a new house, yes we are lucky to get to do so, but don’t point this out to us.  We didn’t choose to do this so it is a mixed bag to say the least.  I harken back to my conversation early on with another fire survivor who declared years after building her “new house” she would still trade it for her old.  And, we are allowing some excitement anyway.  The first major hurdle will be seeing if we can afford our plan which is one of the things that wakes me in the wee hours.  “What if, what then, shit!”.  We are staying small, and relatively simple yet attempting to add features and touches that honor our beloved home.  Lots of tall windows to take in the view, decks across the front, an open vaulted great room, a cozy loft – and possibly an extra bathroom.  Wow.  What would we ever do with two bathrooms?  And, get this, a walk-in closet.  Not that I have clothes to fill it but after years of having to rotate closets as the seasons changed, a decent walk-in sounds lovely. 

Thoughts of this fill my mind.  Will we love it?  Can we afford it?  Will we get too much crap and lose our connection to things as they pile up in corners and in closets gathering dust?  I could argue that once you have more things than you could write down on any piece of paper at any time, you have too much.  I don’t want to accumulate.  I don’t want stacks of dishes, random kitchen implements, drawers full of junk, closets piled with clothes that hardly see the light of day.  I want simple. 

Just what is this new level of darkness that seems to be lying low like the smoke that fills the valley’s below our land?  It feels hard to smile, I am bone tired, and endless worry loops wake me up to tend to them.  Well, let’s see, there is having to move our of our cozy, albeit small, home in Flame; there are wildfires burning all over Colorado and I can’t have any conversation with anyone within 500 miles who isn’t impacted.  It is what is on everyone’s lips and in their minds.  We are no longer talking about “my fire” we are talking about multiple fires.  I can’t politely ask someone to change the subject as the issue has spread like hotcakes.  It’s uncomfortable to talk about it and it’s weird to not talk about it.  It’s not my issue, it’s the state of Colorado and the West’s issue.  Not that it was really ever just mine, just now it’s everywhere and it’s everyones. 

Last night, I did peek at some pictures. I have wanted to stay informed but not overwhelmed so I have steered clear of images that are everywhere I look.  In these images, I glimpsed further into a world I know so well, seeing pained faces, flames coming out of windows, hugs between devastated women, animals fleeing.  I know what’s in the minds of these people.  I remember.  One of my friends exclaimed how awful it must be to discover you are on a list – almost as if I didn’t know.  I know.  I know.  I know.  I f-ing know. 

So yes, I am re-traumatized.  I see that as I type.  I feel the sob that comes up from down deep.  Our fire has faded into the distance as these new fires burn and are splashed all over the news.  But we have not faded.  We are raw and ragged and still here.  I am afraid of the next step. I don’t like being without a home.  I love my dear friends who offer basements but I want my own space.  We chose what seemed good on paper – to put our rental budget into a trailer and reclaim our land but now this seems like an expensive and limiting mistake. 

The couple tears I shed this morning (it was a somewhat stifled sob as I don’t want to startle the lovely 5 year old companion I have at the moment) provided some relief.  I am grieving.  Still.  I keep reminding you of that, but I need to remind myself of that.  That’s what is happening.  It’s grief.

I don’t want to build a new house.  I don’t want to live in a trailer.  I don’t want to live in a basement.  I want my house back. 

And, the truth that coexists is that I want this richer, rawer, edgier part of me that is claiming her place in my soul to live on as well.  And, I can’t have one without the other.  I will take my joys as they come and feel the deep pangs of grief too. As this 5-year-old angel peeks over my hands as I write not comprehending the words I type and god forbid, for a while at least, not comprehending the pain I feel or the darkness that exists in the world.  I will wash my heart for a moment as I listen to her running commentary on all things great and small.  “Did you know dogs can paint…. I met a dog named captain… How old are you…”   She tucks Tigger in a blanket as he lies on my feet and kisses his head exclaiming, “you have the best puppies ever”. 

Then I can say, yes, that is true.  At least, I have the best puppies ever.

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