Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gifts at my doorstep

One of the things that has come of the fire, is that we have many many empty boxes from all the stuff that was taken out of our house, dry-cleaned, then returned to us folded and smoke-free. One of my daughters' favorite games is taking one of the big boxes, putting it on our doorstep, and climbing inside. They're both small enough so they actually fit, like little sardines. Then I come into the room and say loudly to my husband, "Honey, there's a big box on our doorstep. Do you know what it is?" Then I open it and behold, there are two gorgeous little girls pretending to be babies who have been sent from the "orphanage." Then I exclaim with delight and take them into my arms and show them their new home. "Oh my! What beautiful little girls! Can we be your new family? Can we love you and cuddle you and help you grow up?" "Yes!" they exclaim in baby voices that sound slightly demented. Then I show the around their new home. It's the best game. ever. And it makes me realize as I open the big cardboard box, what a huge gift they are!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Catapulted into the Present

Wow, has it been quite a few weeks. I haven't blogged in forever. Basically, I live right smack dab in the middle of one of the neighborhoods heavily hit during the recent southern California wildfires of a few weeks ago. Unbelievably, our house was spared. You cannot believe how close the flames came and how random the fire was that night. Our next door neighbors' house burned to the ground. As well as the one kitty-corner. We have a street that is a small loop and 2/3rds of the homes burned down. We now live in a devastated neighborhood. But there is hope. So many of the families (we know all of them cause our commuity is all faculty who work at a nearby college) have been so lovingly cared for. It's amazing to see how our community has rallied to help. We've had to be out of our home for 16 days to clean it up, get the smoke smell out, and now I'm back and it feels like home again. The black hillside behind our home already has green things shooting through the ash. My daughters have to drive and walk by ruins of friends' homes every day, but they are resilient and they still feel safe. It's crazy how a crisis like this creates an immediate shift in perspective. My focus has shrunk to my little nest. It's all I want to focus on these days. And only now, do I feel my head coming up out of the water and being able to look around and remember past cares and responsibilities. I bought some new plants yesterday to replace the charred ones. I'm getting used to the sour burn smell in the air. I kind of like only having a few clothes, since the rest are at the dry cleaners. Thank God for insurance. Some didn't have it. So that's what's been going on. It's been a fascinating experience of being forced to live in the moment. We never knew when we'd be able to move back...we had to rely on the generosity of others...we stayed in 7 different places during those 16 days. We learned to find the sense of adventure and surrender and gratitude in all of it. But I had my grumpy stressed moments. And I learned about my attachment to things. The night I thought our house was gone, I told myself it would be okay. It's just stuff. I had my little family in my arms and safe and that's all that mattered. But when I discovered my stuff was all there, just smoky and dirty, I was relieved and guilty, then very burdened by it. Everything teeny thing had to be cleaned and it made me obsessive. Suddenly this stuff was feeling very heavy. So interesting, this whole journey. phew. Glad to be starting to move on. And then reading about Mumbai, etc...this world is just so fragile and unpredictable. I am catapulted into the present because anywhere else is too scary. And God is in that place. Thanks be to God.