Friday, July 6, 2012

The End: Time to Go Home

Today we finally go home to stay. We were given permission to return on Sunday, but not knowing what we'd find, we just went to look.

What I saw on Tuesday from work was this:

See that lighter brown smudge below the smoke? That's the quarry and my house is right under it. You can see why I wondered if I still had a home at the end of that day.

What we saw when we went home on Sunday was this:

This picture is from the main street in my neighborhood about 5 houses down from mine. So you can see how close that quarry is to my house. The only way you can see what happened on Tuesday is by looking closely at the mountain and seeing that the darkness is mostly charred sticks with a few very small patches of trees that are unburned.

I'm afraid that the complete contrast between the first photo and how normal and untouched the neighborhood felt when we went home just didn't gel in my mind. I was still trying to process the trauma of seeing flames race toward my home and what was going on in my mind did not match the normalness of my home.

So I drew this to help me visualize that conflict:

My home is down there in the corner with the trees still bright and green while above it rages the inferno that destroyed 346 homes starting just 4-5 blocks south of there. The quarry hovers protectively, diverting the flames and giving me the mercy that was not granted to others.

Since I wasn't ready emotionally to move back in (the fire was still not completely contained) and the house needed some cleaning, we just paid visits. Tuesday night and Wednesday I did some laundry to clean smoke out of floor rugs, bedding, and other textiles. Then I got out the baking soda products and spread it on the carpet up stairs for an hour before vacuuming it up. When we first got home on Sunday I couldn't smell the smoke, but after airing out the house, it was there just a little bit. In a way that was a good thing since it helped resolve the conflict in my mind.

Right now the house smells like scented Carpet Fresh. We'll find out if we need another go once that smell goes away.

And tonight we move back. They turned on the gas and lit the pilot light yesterday, so we have hot water and the fire is 100% contained. That means it's time to go home.

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