Demo Day

Well the day has finally arrived. After 186 days (but who is counting) our sweet old home came down today.

I have had seriously mixed emotions about this day, but have made it thus far with relatively few tears. The desire to move forward and move beyond has been building since mid-October.  Since I have written very little about this process and its uniqueness, I will attempt to do so today. But first a few pictures to show you how we spent our lunch hour.

The truck arrived around noon and the men got to work quickly.  But first, James posed with the equipment.

James is ready to go

The work began almost exactly at 12:30, with the garage (they pulled right in the driveway).

Bye Bye Garage

I can not tell a lie, the first few cracks of lumber and the twisting of metal were hard (kindof like when they revved the chain saw to cut the backdraft hole in the roof). And I cried a little (but nothing like the night of the fire).  I loved our sweet old house, warts and all. 

But after the last month, it has also been a huge relief. Let me explain this strange mix of sadness, regret, and relief. 

One of my biggest regrets in the immediate aftermath of the fire was not venturing across the upstairs t.v. room to the doorway of what was once the office before it became truly impassable and unspeakably dangerous (most of the floor in th e office caved into the kitchen below).  In the first few days the t.v. room seemed so dangerous and unstable, and yet the salvage crew sent their lightest guy over there and he was able to save a few treasures. I now wonder if he could do it, why couldn’t I?

See, I am the only person who knew all of what was squirreled away and where in there – as in where to look to see if by some miracle the external hard drives (with years 1-8 of our married life) and any more pictures may have survived. Irrational, I know, but there it is.

I also wish I had asked the salvage guys to break down the barricaded door into the Christmas closet (in the t.v. room), as I think many of the binned ornaments and great-grandmas nativity that may have survived. But I didn’t. Once again, if I knew then what I know now. 

These are the last few treasures that I have had an extraordinarily hard  time letting go of.  Somehow the *thought* that they might still be in there and salvagable has just not left me alone.  And it was really hard being there today watching it come down and wishing, hoping, and wondering – what if I had been braver, what if I had just asked? What if I had just climbed the piles of debris to get to the doorway? What if, when I was in the office unplugging the stupid computer so the power surge didn’t fry it, I had just known to take the dumb back-up hard drives, which shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

Anyway, I say that I have been having an extraordinarily hard time (past tense) because it got a bit easier when Sarah was visiting for spring break. What Sarah failed to mention about our trip to the Blue Bell factory was that I received a phone call from our neighbor telling me that the constable had just pulled two homeless people out of our house (guns drawn). Oh joy!

This thread could be its own post, but the quick summary is that in addition to squatters, the house and garage were broken in to pretty much daily for a week or more around the time of Sarah’s visit. The thieves were stripping wires and taking other odds and ends (nothing special – all that stuff was already gone). First the back door was kicked in, then the bathroom window was broken out, etc.  That was the crummiest $100 spent at Home Depot on ply wood, nails, pad locks, and No Trespassing signs. What a (bleeping) waste of money and effort but it had to be secured. (The police couldn’t arrest the squatters because it was not posted as “No Trespassing” and since its vacant they weren’t “breaking and entering.”  But of course, if they were injured by falling debris, we’d be liable. URGH!)

Anyway, all of that took this crummy experience to a whole new low. And has made me grateful to get the damn thing down.  It seems odd to say that so cruelly. I loved that place and after fire, rowdy rock-throwing youth, vagrants, and thieves I am now just relieved to be turning the corner to the future. (I’ll write about that another day. Its exciting and overwhelming and driving me a whole new kind of crazy!))

Oh, and I know the neighbors will be happy…for now.  Vacant is better than falling down for property values (and the aforementioned one lot crime wave). And now we can stop be harassed to mow the lawn (lipstick on a pig but it’s what they wanted).

So after two hours, this is where the house stood as the crew broke for lunch and James and I came home so he could nap. Sweet little boy was so patient while Daddy and Mama stood there videoing, taking pictures, talking to neighbors, and mourning (again) the loss of our first home.

Two bedrooms and two bathrooms are all that is left.

It’s amazing to me to realize that two hours is all it took to bring down more than half our home. Well that is half of the half that was left after the fire. It took from 4:30-7:30 for the fire to do its work. It somehow seems fitting and proper that its taking the claw about the same.

What takes 6 hours to destroy will take 4-6 months to physically rebuild.  Sobering, isn’t it?

Understanding Why the USPS is Going Broke

First I’d like to say that I didn’t have to duct tape our mail slot shut the week after the fire to prevent mail from being delivered, but that would be a lie, ’cause I did. Even though I went to the local post office the next day and completed a hold order so that I could stop by while we sorted out our living situation and just pick up the mail.

Mail slot, duct taped shut, in all its glory.

Once we were in the rent house, we decided to use the US Postal Service’s temporary forwarding service. This is an especially good choice now that we’ve decided to rebuild on our existing lot. This way, we won’t have to change our address on everything and then change it back a few months later. You’d think that would be a simple enough enterprise, but that hasn’t been our experience.

First, we suffered a LOT of confusion because we moved exactly four blocks from our old house, so two of the digits are identical. The few people that we have actually given the new address to have had to confirm and reconfirm that they’ve heard us correctly no less than three times.

But I think the day that exemplifies our delivery dilemmas the best came in early January (it’s just taken me weeks to post it). I got an email from Tami saying the birthday invitation she sent to the old address was returned to her and musing that we must not have received the Christmas card she sent either. Except that the Christmas card was forwarded (and it was lovely). Then Shannon wrote to ask if she had written our temporary address down wrong, cause her Christmas card was returned. But alas, she had sent it the correct (temporary) address.

So now I am left to wonder, exactly how much am I missing out on? We’re getting lots of forwarded mail most days, but apparently not all and anyone using the temporary address may or may not be getting through.

USPS can you please get your $#&% together so we can get our mail. We used your stupid system, now give us our mail!