Everything I touched literally turned to dust. Everything around me was seemingly perfumed with scents of mesquite and barbeque sauce. Everything around me was black.
Death is an interesting thing.
With every footstep I took arose a cloud of smoke in the slight September breeze. Before I knew it, I was groping the earth around me; euphorically inhaling the smell decisive of ashes— I’d always loved to play with fire… but I’d never understood it.
As I observed the now barren landscape, I thought about that day. Standing before my recently renovated room, I had to decide: what would I save from the fire?
What I lost in the fire was not material— it was spiritual. When I was faced to choose between all my material belongings I took (almost exclusively) memories; not the dozens of books I have in my room, nor the excruciatingly unique wardrobe I’ve amassed over the years.
No amount of saved vintage Lacoste sweaters would ever compensate for the loss of every memory I had.
Looking back, what I lost in the fire was the selfishness and preoccupation that comes with materialism. Realizing that almost everything I’d been vehemently protecting was replaceable, arbitrary, unimportant—- that’s what allowed me to move on from a lot of things that I’d been going through emotionally.
On my way back home I couldn’t help but cry about the landscape. What had once been a verdant utopia was now completely charred.
That could have been my house.
As much as I hate to admit it: the fire was good for me.
When we evacuated, I turned and looked at mom, grateful that she had survived illnesses past and told her I was happy that it happened— even then, because I knew that we left that fire as a family.
Now, every time that I’m feeling ungrateful or sullen I can return to my broken landscape and remember the lessons the fire taught me.
They say, “Never play with fire”… but fire surely played with me.