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