I was at a friends house, Saturday morning, gently sitting on the poach mid morning, when I heard firetrucks, and ambulances, and cop cars whiz down the street. I knew in my gut that it was my place, but went to the end of the street to assess the situation anyways. Sure enough, it was my apartment. I ran back to my friends, grabbed my keys and ran to my home. I was met by the already working and busy firemen as I tried to get up the stairs to rescue my cat. My 3 year old night time cuddle buddy. The firemen directed me down the stairs, with good reason, I couldn't even see my door frame from the middle of the stairs, 8 feet away. About 5 mins later they brought my cat out, he was barely breathing, foaming and frothy on his mouth. I found a firefighter and we gave him a mask and oxygen, which I am thankful for. He responded amazingly well, and thankfully is doing very well. He's back to his old self, including the cuddles.
A few hours later and I was let back inside. The fire started in my apartment, inside my stove, a gas stove. So dangerous.. It spread to the walls, and ceiling in the kitchen, where the fire was contained. My cupboards melted, my microwave across the room melted. The plaster was burnt off the walls, and studs and pipes were then exposed. Paint burnt, bubbled, and peeled from the ceilings, door frames and adjacent walls. The rest of the apartment had been covered in a thick, sticky, oily black, soot/residue. My walls, ceilings and floors were black. My apartment look as if it was an old photograph, worn from exposure, and frayed at the edges. My white suede coffee table is now black, my laptop covered in soot, my clothing stained. It was truly one of the most devastating moments of my life. I sat down on the couch, waited for my oldest sister Shari to arrive. Luckily she was passing threw Toronto after a weekend in Kingston. Apparently I was in some sort of "shock". I sat on the couch, sometimes catching a glimpse of my apartment in an untouched state from the corner of my eye. Those quickly faded, and the broken windows and the reality of the blackened walls hit me like a brick. All I wanted was a cup of tea. My sister took action and went to a family friends and got a truck and trailer, and we loaded up my belongings, weather we could salvage them or not. It was hard to see 27 years of my most prized possessions being loaded onto the back of a truck. We didn't have boxes, or papers to wrap the dishes, but what did it matter... I packed my Grandmothers Canister set, flour, sugar and tea. My dishes, martini shaker, my silverware. I transferred my bottles of herbs into zip lock bags, I am thankful each bottle was sealed with a trust plastic ring that didn't melt. I loaded my wine fridge, my kitchen aid mixer and left the rest of the kitchen for junk.
I emptied my medicine shelf in the bathroom, taking only the necessities. Deodorant, some Advil (I wasn't in a Chamomile Tea, Homeopathic Mood) and the cats food. I left my shower curtain, bathmats and most of my linens.
My bedroom was just as bad, being farthest away from the fire I was surprised as the damage. I picked up my clothes off the floor, emptied my closet, loaded up pictures, memories and anything glass I knew I could wash. I left my bed, which killed me, because I just bought it, but smoke never comes out of fabric like that, it wouldn't have been healthy to salvage. I left my bedding. Everything I worked so hard to accomplish, left behind.
Finally my living room. The room I dreaded the most. I stood there, looked at my laptop wondering what condition it would be in. I have photos on my computer, of my family, that I could never get back. Pictures of my Grams, and Mom. Its funny, I sat in my living room a week before the fire, and said to myself.... "what are the 3 things I would grab if this place went up in flames.... 1. My Cat, 2. My Laptop, 3. My Family Photos... Its odd the thoughts we have, so random, but maybe a sign. I gathered books, I know they can't be saved, as they would trap the smell of smoke for an eternity, but I just couldn't leave them behind. I grabbed my trunk, containing some of my more precious memories, pictures, letters and books. I left my couch, my TV stand, all my blankets and area rugs..
It took me 18 months to make that dusty apartment a home, and only a few hours to empty its contents. How sad.
I am happy to say I have my laptop working. I took it apart (being pretty handy) and cleaned the logic board, and all its components with alcohol and cotton swabs. I took apart the exhaust fan, and hand washed it in the sink. Its funny, I was in the process of downloading a few movies to watch, and what popped up saying "download complete" was the movie "Things we lost in the fire". I always ask the universe for signs, but I miss them for some reason. I don't know how to identify them before the trauma...
I am happy that no one was hurt, after all its just stuff... My landlord said the funniest thing to me. He said "I am so sorry, you had such a beautiful apartment, your things were so beautiful, I am so sorry, I feel so bad for you"... I asked him why? Its just stuff, its property, not people....
I've been through bigger losses than a few picture frames, a wool jacket and microwave. I know that the universe has a plan for everything, and everyone. Do I understand it now? God no, I have no idea what this world has in store for me, but I do know I'm safe, I have the most amazing sisters and brother-in-laws, friends, and I am thankful everyday for what I do have.
This isn't a step backwards for me, this is a step forward. A door is never closed without a window being opened. Fire and smoke can't hold me back or down. Life is a lesson, its education, sometimes we learn the hard way.
Until next time, be safe.