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Rambling thoughts from a cold-addled person with smoke in her lungs:

One of my earliest childhood memories of Halloween was 3rd grade. I was trick or treating in my neighborhood, and the skies behind the mountains that flanked our house were orange with fire. I remember the stark black of the mountains against the orange so clearly. We were on evacuation alert, but hadn't been moved yet, and I was too young and too Pisces to be frightened.

It was the early 80's. I don't think we were as diligent about things like this as we are now. Heh.

My father's house burned up in the early 90's. It wasn't part of a wildfire; it was an electrical fire that blew up the garage. What the fire didn't destroy, the smoke did. I remember going into the house after the firemen put out the flames (I was reckless, even then), and seeing the skeletal remains of the house I grew up in. The best work I can think of to describe it really is surreal. Parts of the house were literally blackened skeletons. I remember the smell of smoke and wet wood, and the moment I realized that all the artwork and all the photographs in the house were gone. I remember my father wrestling with the insurance company, and the crap deal he got in the end.

I miss those photographs. I have, maybe, three of my family now, and the one I really loved of my father was taken from me when I was mugged in San Francisco in 2000. Bastard.

My heart really does go out to everyone that is affected by the hellstorm that is blowing through Southern California.

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
djnevermore
Oct. 25th, 2007 04:46 am (UTC)
deleting that last one cuz the avatar was inappropriate
Oh a fire would be so very difficult emotionally. I'm sorry you went through that. A lot of my (somewhat distant) family is in SoCal. I hope you and yours are alright!
edenssixthday
Oct. 25th, 2007 05:02 am (UTC)
Oh sweetie, I am so sorry you and your family had to go through that. I grew up in California and have so many vivid memories of seeing the hills on fire and how simultaneously fascinating and terrifying it was. I can't even begin to imagine how devestating and traumatic that must have been (and still is) for you and your family.

I still have so many friends and family in San Diego and like you, my heart is going out to all of the people in SoCal who are facing this battle. There aren't words for how sad this is, and I'm particularly angered by the news that arson was the cause for at least some of the fires.
atalantapendrag
Oct. 25th, 2007 05:03 am (UTC)
Everything I'm hearing about the current fires blows me away. There are quite a few California residents on my flist, and I've been concerned for all of you! But the fire-scene you describe from your childhood sounds eerily lovely.

I trust you are staying safe, and getting some much-needed rest!
upstart_crow
Oct. 25th, 2007 05:28 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry to hear about your family home, Beth.
jettcat
Oct. 25th, 2007 05:28 am (UTC)
I remember being in my dad's volkswagon on the golden state freeway watching the smoke blow across the crawling lanes of traffic, then seeing the flames licking down the hillside. Later we lived in Orange county and were surrounded by two different fires on an autumn day not to different from the one today.
I think about my friend working for CDF and how last week most of her crew was let go for the season. You can't determine the end of fire season by what has been budgeted. Permament Intermintent, that's what the state calls those firefighters, permanent intermintent is what those people who've lost their homes for quite some time will feel. There's no place to call home and no way to fix the fact a large part of their lives have been summarily deleted.

Now I just pray the winds just die.
alicia_stardust
Oct. 25th, 2007 05:55 am (UTC)
Sorry, Long Comment Ahead!
Oh, Beth. If only I could write something half as vivid, surreal, and tangible as you can when you're cold-addled. It makes me heartsick that you lost your favorite picture of your father when you were mugged. =/

I did not grow up here so California wildfires are new to me. However, my hometown is nestled at the base of a half-circle of mountains and our summers were incredibly dry and prone to lightning storms.

There was a time when I was just over sixteen that I had gotten permission to drive to the nearest city to go shopping with my friends. We spent all day at the mall before heading home. As I came over the north summit about 20 miles outside of my town, all I could see was an entire horizon of flames and smoke. I saw nothing else but darkness and fire that made it appear as if the entire town was gone. This was before the widespread existence of cell phones so no one had been able to get a hold of me and all I could do was slowly drive closer to the raging inferno, watching for signs that might prevent me from going further. Those 20 miles were the longest in my life, and the sense of loss was so very real to all of us in the car that I could barely see through the tears as I drove.

It turned out that Fillmore was still there, but the outlying towns were evacuated and there was major destruction. We had about two days of white and gray ash that rained down on us and I remember that my lungs and sinuses burned from the smoke.

Since that experience I have always had a reverential, fearful respect for fire and its power to destroy. Sometimes I find it odd that I, a Pisces, have been able to let go just enough to be able to do fire dancing. I never forget what it can do, though. Reading about the southern California fires this week is a strong, humbling reminder.
asqmh
Oct. 25th, 2007 05:59 am (UTC)
I lived in CA for several years. Every time I hear about the rampaging fires, it sends a chill through me. I worry about so many people I know out there. . .


Also, a mugging taking your pictures? Asshats like that will be smacked with ugly karma of DOOM.

... not to mention you have such a rabid following that if it ever got out who mugged you, he'd find it really hard to mug again, what with the broken kneecaps and all. . . (But it'd be the best smelling mob EV4R.)
theblackdeer
Oct. 25th, 2007 10:11 am (UTC)
My family had already moved out, but my childhood home burned down. It was heartbreaking because my father had designed that house himself.

I can remember walking through the house and seeing the weirdest thing - a large crucifix in the bedroom had left a giant white cross on an otherwise blackened wall. A superstitious person would have freaked out!
katestamps
Oct. 25th, 2007 01:58 pm (UTC)
I grew up in North Carolina, in the mountains, and while we were always aware of the danger of fire, it was remote for most of my childhood. I cannot imagine the devastation of losing your home to fire (or flood, for that matter.) My heart goes out to all those who have or are facing this loss.
(Anonymous)
Oct. 26th, 2007 09:09 pm (UTC)
A beautiful post, Beth.

I'm so afraid of losing everything in a fire. It's so final. When I was a teenager I used to babysit a brother and sister who lived with their dad. Dad had a drinking problem and fell asleep on the couch with a cigarette. The little girl jumped to safety out the second story window but they found dad slumped over the little boy upstairs, beneath a window, both dead. I rode my bicycle past that house over and over, trying to understand how that big, beautiful structure where I played Uno and Scrabble with those kids was just a black, stinking mess.

I think about all you So Cal people every day and hope that you are safe.
bibliochick
Oct. 26th, 2007 09:11 pm (UTC)
Ugh, that anonymous comment that may or may not show up was me, the ol' senile Heretic.
rosaleen_dhu
Oct. 28th, 2007 05:25 pm (UTC)
I have a totally irrational fear of fire destroying my house, and your story really touched me. I'm sorry you and yours had to go through that, and I feel so badly for all those dealing with that now.

Would you mind if I added you as a friend? I am also Rosaleen Dhu on the forum.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )