a 4-alarm fire ravaged a building in the neighborhood friday morning at 4.  i slept through all the sirens and didn’t find out about it until i walked to work.

for about a week in kindergarten right after we moved into a new house, i brought my bear to school with me inside my backpack.  i was afraid my house would burn down while i was away and wanted white bear safe.  i have no idea why i was afraid the house would burn.  maybe i saw something on the news or heard some people talking about a house that burned to the ground.  everyone’s houses had wood shingles so they burned quickly once the wood weathered.

in high school, a girl i had known from girl scouts in elementary school accidentally burned her house to the ground.  i remember thinking how horrible the guilt would be from accidentally burning down your family’s house.  all those family photos, sentimental keepsakes, heirlooms, everything turned into ash.  it had something to do with a lit cigarette in a garbage can.

i had just put a pot of tea on the stove at the house on trollinger in college, when a friend stopped by to tell me the firemen were doing a drill.  they had torched an old house that had sat for years between our campus and the super kmart.  i hadn’t thought about them practicing before.  so we went and watched the fire rage with everyone else in town.  when we got back the teapot was sitting on the lawn next to the driveway.  my roommate had gotten home just in time, probably only a few minutes after we had left. the bottom of the teapot was gone and she may have had to put out some small flames.  it was a close one for sure.  the irony did not escape us.

(same roommate years later almost burned down her apartment trying to fry okra.)

the people who occupied the 7 apartments at 80 green street have to find new homes.  and clothes. and things. definitely disrupting, but i bet they’re all glad to still be here.  they knocked on each other’s door to make sure everyone got out.  then went to the roof and jumped to another roof to get down.

right before i moved to ny, the thought crossed my mind that it would be a lot easier if the apartment burned and i didn’t have to go through all my stuff.  of course that’s not really what i wanted, but there is something appealing about starting fresh.  only having what you need, what is relevant.  it’s liberating.  all that stuff is just stuff.  we hang on to it and carry it around.  we do the same thing with emotions.  it’s dangerous.  and for that i recommend this book.  i need another copy, i gave mine away.  it’s that kind of book.


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