Friday, June 04, 2010

The irrational overcame the rational

There were things about the house-fire that I don't know if I blocked or if the situation was so far moved from reality and traumatic that it took a similar weather day to bring them back. Today I went to voter registration to change my address and they said that I had changed it in September. I was blank-- I did? Later on in the day I would remember it, I'd gone down to vote early to make sure I voted for my friends in the election. I know Erick Cordero was in it for school board, but I forget who else.

It was like my rational side hid during the fire and my non-thinking, only reacting side took over. It's a good thing because had the rational side taken over, I'd have panicked. Whatever I did wrong, I did right by always keeping a clear path (no matter how small!) between me, the fire and an exit.

A few weeks after the fire, Mudd started getting hystrical in the suburban and not wanting to get out or leave me alone. I didn't know what to do and he demanded that I take him to the house and he led me by the hand pointing things out then he asked me, "Were you stupid to go back inside the burning house? Will you do it again?" He was cute, he wanted the assurance that Mom wasn't going to do anything stupid again. I promised him that yes, I was stupid and that I'd nver run back into a burning building. I say he was acting hysterical, but he wasn't. If my mom ran inside a burning building, I'd have issues!

(I told my husband about remembering the smoke over dinner and he countered with a story about work and his colleague who is a former jet fighter who is now bored out of his brilliant gourd and I was floored that he mentioned him when he did. I really don't chatter about this all the time!)

Anyway, I had a major problem that I didn't recall if the house was smoky when I went back in. The fire marshal said it was smoky and there was no reason for him to joke about that and said to me, "Trust me, it was smoky." OK, but I didn't think it was. (He said, "I'm right. You'll remember it later." He likes to be right which is good because well, he is right. Always.) All today I have been feeling just out of sorts and realized that the weather is similar to that day. That day is was overcast and a little sunny-- it was a perfect autumn day, really. Not warm, not cold. There was a breeze, but it was a nice breeze where you get the wind blowing through your house and it gets rid of the stale air. I have a window cracked most of the time-- so many people in a small house makes the moisture an issue, but I never thought about it until we moved into another small house that had fine ventilation before we came in!

So today I felt weird, then I called a few people who know about these things and they all said I was grieving. Maybe it is because I am home and not running around and I have time on my hands, or maybe it is because this is reminding me of the weeks before the fire in the old house that I have time to think contemplatively.

I let Cloud deal with the dinner and she was messing with her phone and let them start smoking and there was a haze and the fire alarm went off. I looked up and I just remembered the smoke. It was nothing bad or freaky at that point, I was just like, "There was smoke in there." Only the back bedroom beyond the dining room was on fire and I saw an orange glow emitting from it and there were flames coming out from the top of the door. There was lots of smoke in the dining room. I saw flames outside the sliding glass door on the other side of the dining room. I am surprised that I ran to get my computer which was not far from it. It would wind up being shot when I got it, but it worked for a few weeks off and on. I wouldn't have tried to leave from the sliding glass door if it was my only way out because it didn't work on it's good days.

I got my purse and looked at the vase that my bff from high school gave me and remembered that I had fallen earlier. I am glad that I did think to rescue it, but not glad at my logic in that I thought that it would be safer to have the firefighters rescue it than for me to risk falling with it! LOL (This is from the girl who had realized the bedroom was on fire while putting out the fire and knew that she had to leave the house, so she ran to the other room to blow out the other candle!)

I remember intense heat in the house. Think about how hot a fireplace is when you are standing 3' in front of it, then think of a 12' X 10' bedroom most likely all ablaze and how much heat that would send out! I knew it was hot in the room on Thanksgiving when I took out the turkey, but I forgot about the house.

Now I remember driving the kids in the rusty suburban up the road to where they didn't have to see the house burning. Starshine was in her underwear as she had been changing her clothes which started the whole thing and that surprised me momentarily and it reminded me why the house was burning-- she'd had clothes in the dresser, on top of which had sat the burning candle. I was confused because the fire had been across the room. Later I'd realize that the whole closet was on fire and I walked past it. In a long skirt. (I don't dress like that any more-- except on hot days. Long, light skirts are cool on hot days!)

I need to go back to where I was getting emotionally before the fire. Fridays meant the house had to be reasonably clean for the Shabbat candles to be lit (privately, by me.) I had been feeling a marked improvement every week. I was sneaking excess stuff out of the house and purging. I feel like it was for naught, but had the clutter been there, it could have had me killed as I’d have tripped over it trying to leave! Seriously-- the tiny hallway between bedrooms housed the washer/dryer but had been 3' deep with clothes. You could not walk through it and most of the stuff was from people knowing that we had a huge family and DUMPING stuff on our porch in the middle of the night. I'd sneak things out to the trashcans on Thursday mornings before trash collection or a bag in each one right after it was collected so my husband or kids wouldn't try to get it out. "Hey, this still has some use!" Bah!

I'm not Jewish, but knowing that my Jewish friends who are Orthodox were crazily cleaning house made me feel a part of it and I was in with them, even though it meant nothing to Jews world-wide. Mudd called challah bread, "bready-cake". I served it at sundown on Friday night and would have a small feast. The kids were like, "Late night snack! Woo-hoo!"

So, this is what has been going on. The only time it got surreal was when I was reflecting to my husband and he responded with something about this one guy from work and said we were having a conversation. It's like talking about school and your convo partner responding with something about the price of coffee. THIS IS MY CONSTANCY!!!

Anyway. . . I don't know if I will ever return to normal or what I knew as normal. Everyone is a year older. Three seasons have passed. I'm not keen on candles even though the investigator told me that I should light them just to show safety. Since he also said that if I don't, at least some may marry candle freaks or have roommates who are into candles and they need to be able to know what is safe and what isn't, I will do as he says.


Palm Springs Savant said...

be patient with yourself., you went through an incredibly traumatic experience and there is no quick fix to the emotions or memories. Hang in there.

When I was in college, I had a TINY fire with a toaster and to this day, I still fear toasters. So I can only imagine what you are going through.

Anonymous said...

Well, extreme situations bring irrational things to surface usually.

BY the way I have a little lesson for your kids on my blog. They may find it useful.