What can one think about when you are driving happily to a destination and when you get there the house is gone? I mean, the house was gone. It was burned to the ground gone. The only thing remaining were firefighters and the bricks where the fireplace remained like a semi towering remnant of happier times.
It was late December and my friend had failed to inform me her stepfather had been threatening to burn her house down. I am not sure if anyone reading this has ever arrived at the scene of a total disaster of this magnitude, but the brain does strange things.
At first, I thought it was odd a fire could get so hot it would melt a Kitchen Aide. I mean, those things are heavy! They are made for the serious cook, not the lighthearted pansy cook! I was searching for the thing. It was gone, baby, gone.
After the shock set in, the two of us began singing fire related songs. You know, "Burning down the house" by The Talking Heads. We remembered the song about "someone burned my underwear" that kids sing. I remembered a church camp song about how it only takes a spark to get a fire going and how that relates to the love of God. The firefighters suggested after several hours of us behaving like this that neither one of us drive anywhere. But we did. We arrived at Albertson's at about 4a.m. My friend bought essentials: a toothbrush, floss, paste, powder, deodorant, etc. The clerk then said, "Is there anything else you need?" I am not making that up. That is exactly what he said. We completely lost it laughing. "YES! WE NEED AN ENTIRE HOUSE!"
Needless to say, the entire event was not very funny at all. Losing everything you own is not a small loss. My friend coped by becoming quite anti-materialistic. She didn't like Nordstrom's anymore. Despite this, she thumbed through magazines with pictures of living rooms and bedrooms in them. She became a minimalist. Her stepfather was never charged or convicted of arson. He claimed the bag of fertilizer sitting too close to the furnace was an accident. He had cleverly planned it to be a fire only versus the murder of anyone by making certain no one would be home that evening.
I did what any friend would do. I gave her some clean underwear. Nothing was the same after that. Nothing. -Alison Whiteman