Earlier this month, the house I’m living in had a fire. Let me start off by saying, everyone is ok and the house is still livable.
It happened in the kitchen, after a burner under a pot of oil was accidentally left on. It could, and does happen to anyone. We were sitting in our basement apartment when the sudden bang of a breaker going off alerted us to the fact that something was wrong. Cale went upstairs to check and what ultimately must have been less than a minute later, I heard him yell fire. I followed upstairs just in time to basically see him running with a flaming pot of oil out the front door. Looking at the kitchen, I saw darkness and the reflection of flames as I run back down the stairs to grab CJ and run out the back door. Once she was safe, I ran back in to beat out the fire with a cloth and douse any remaining embers.
We had the fire out before the firefighters got there, and they got there quite quickly! Cale had a relatively mild (especially considering!) burn on his hand from the heat of the flames as grabbed the pot. It wasn’t until writing this post that we both realized that the burn on his hand was on top where the flame rolled over the skin as he ran. Apparently despite the fact that the contents of the pot were on FIRE, the handle managed to stay cool enough not to burn…THAT IS A FUCKING WELL DESIGNED POT DAMN IT!
Did you know that smoke from a house fire leaves behind what looks like blackened cobwebs? They’re called smoke webs.
Most of the kitchen is ok, though despite that, some effects of the fire are visible throughout the house. The stove is gone, as is the stove fan, and cabinets above and below will have to be replaced. Insurance had to be called, and we’ve been told that the next few weeks will see workmen coming and going to take care of all the various things that need to be taken care of. The thought that keeps circulating among all of us who live here is that it could have been so much worse. Cale and I both had to get checked out by paramedics, and while our vitals were all ok, I can still feel the irritation of the smoke in the back of my throat.
For all that this fire had a less tragic ending, it’s brought back a lot of thoughts and feelings related to losing my home to a fire back in 2011. What is it with years that end in 1?
I’ve been in a heightened state of anxiety since it happened, which hasn’t been particularly gentle with my Crohn’s.
I can’t help thinking of all the similarities between the two fires. In both cases the fires started in the kitchen, in the case of the house that burned down, it was my neighbour’s kitchen, but still.
Both times when it happened, I was a student in my winter semester.
Both times, it started in a kitchen, though in the case of the house in Hull, it was my neighbor’s kitchen.
Both times, it was someone else’s actions that had such an effect on me.
Both times I was in a place I nominally moved to for my education, in a place far away from my family.
In a sense, the first fire acted to mark my transition from broke college student, to actually living in poverty. It taught me the meaning of housing insecurity, as in an instant I found myself homeless and having lost everything. This after years of moving yearly, in the transient student tradition, sparked an obsession with finding myself a safe nest; a hearth to call home. A goal, in truth, I am still working towards.
I didn’t just lose my house, I lose all sorts of mementos, keepsakes, and basically everything I owned up to that point. The sentimental loss hit hard of course, but another reality was facing the prospect of having to replace everything all at once. It’s something I’ve faced again after having to move again and having to give up most of what I owned. You find yourself looking for something, not knowing whether you have it, lost it, or whether it’s gone.
With this most recent fire, the actual loss sustained personally by me was relatively minor. Some food lost. Possibly some kitchen item or two. The owners lost more, what with part of the kitchen now needing to be rebuilt, and the oven needing replacing. Insurance has been remarkable co-operative and helpful. And yet, there is a part of me that is still somehow waiting for this to end with me homeless again. I know logically that it shouldn’t. I know that I haven’t done anything wrong, in fact it wasn’t even me in the kitchen. I’ve been doing my best to help take some of the work off of the home owner’s shoulders – helping with phone calls, meeting people as they come by throughout the day. But still the worry, the fear, exists and I can’t seem to make it go away.
It’s all messing with my head. My focus is shot, of course at the best possible time with everything coming due. I’m working on trying to control my anxiety, but it’s also been like dominoes. My ADHD, my anxiety, my depression, they’ve all decided to make themselves felt this week, which of course displeases my spine and stomach who start to feel left out.
Still, I was prepared for this in some way. I knew it would be rough the moment I saw the smoke. I’m processing and trying to take the time to process and come to terms with everything. I’m trying not to repeat the mistake of last time and pretending everything was ok when it wasn’t, but I’m also taking hope in the fact that I’ve survived worse. This is fine…