Saturday, October 11, 2008

where there was smoke, there was fire

It's too long a story to tell here for now, and with too many complicated feelings to tell easily. But, we had a fire in our apartment building, and we were temporarily homeless (though in an upper-middle-class stay-at-your-friends' houses kind of way), and now temporarily housed. I feared for my life only in retrospect, and all of the Hemodynamics family got out safely.

We're actually back in our old building but in another part of it, subletting the apartment of someone who didn't want to come back while the building was being rebuilt. In our old apartment most of the walls and ceilings are now demolished: our apartment itself didn't burn, but the water of the hoses came down through the walls to our apartment from where the fire was being fought above.

The halls are full of the white plaster dust, and the floors in the halls are stripped down to the wood underneath them. Everything is dusty and each time I turn the corner I smell the smell of smoke, which just reminds me of that night. Coming back to our building means smelling smoke, both literally and figuratively. It means being reminded of a traumatic event. But it also means reclaiming that event not simply as a disruptive moment, but as something that is part of our history, and shapes our future. It smooths out the trauma, into the clay of the larger lives we build. I think it's a good thing.

In the hospital, I realized recently that I was in a "don't f- with me" mood. Without my clippers and feeling grumpy about buying new razors and other such things that the movers were supposed to return to us, but didn't, I let my beard grow into a unruly patchy mess. Facial-hair-wise it was if I was some kind of Che Guevara wannabe slouching through a Harvard hospital, just biding my time until I could really make some trouble. I was using swear words more than usual. I was making dark jokes more than usual.

Today, maybe it's a sign of starting to recover that I went to the barbershop, and got my beard trimmed, and my hair cut, and even got shaved above and below my beard line with a straight razor, an unprecedented event. Slowly, I think my unconscious mind is joining my conscious mind in rejoining the normal world.

Still, out in the hallway it smells like smoke. It's going to take a long time for that smell to go away.

1 comment:

Moondance said...

Oh no! I am glad both human and feline members of your family were unharmed. Here's hoping this passes into history quickly and smoothly.