Thursday, September 16, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

What would your house look like if you had the opportunity to create a brand new one from scratch?

I just returned home after being evacuated for a week from our neighborhood. After the long holiday weekend of dancing tango to the wee hours, my husband and I awoke to an eerily orange hazy sky. Upon first blush, this moon-like atmosphere was not alarming. After dancing to un-Godly hours in the morning for the last several days, we were used to feeling as if we were in a suspended dimension devoid of the surety of any particular time of day. But quickly the distinctive smell of fire was detected. Too pervasive to be the burning of fall leaves (and too early; after all, it's only mid September - and besides something that is never done in the overly-suck-the-life-out-of-your-skin Colorado weather anyway) it is immediately recognized as a wildfire. And not too far away.

We've been through this before. Sort of. Over a year ago we had front row seats in our living room to a wildfire burning about a mile away from our house. We prepared for the possible evacuation by packing what we thought were our "irreplaceable" items. So this time, as ash slowly fell from the sky like the beginnings of an amazing snowstorm, I suggested that we start to put in boxes what we would like to take for the inevitable evacuation.

Again we pack. This time we pile in not only precious photos but all of the negatives dating back to my husband's middle school years. Well loved, expensive and essentially now irreplaceable coats of mine are packed along with jewelry, an Hermes scarf, a borrowed Louis Vuitton clutch, tango shoes and hundreds of tango CDs, along with the expected important documents, few days change of clothes and computer equipment. We move into our temporary digs, a house of a good friend whom lucky for all of us, happens to be traveling. We settle in and set up our computers. Claim the space for which we think may work the best for each of us. Immediately I know it will be a challenge to actually get anything accomplished. Trying to be productive while perched upon a vinyl covered wooden bar stool? Not going to happen. Eating dinner at a glass topped brass tone (painted) metal base table and checking emails while sinking into a deep seated plaid Lazy Boy type chair within a house that has ceiling heights barely more than seven feet tall and windows shrouded by low, vine covered overhangs makes me feel closed in and a bit trapped.

I'm fully aware of how the space makes me feel and why. I'm a big believer in the notion that the space in which you find yourself, especially the one in which you regularly inhabit, affects not only your emotions, but your productivity and general outlook on life. My husband, however, does not typically analyze his surroundings as I do being a designer. So, I watch his transformation in our borrowed abode. He struggles to stay focused on any one task. He intermittently follows the news on the devastating results of the fire in the midst of his attempt to organize his workload. He becomes quiet compared to his usual exuberant Chatty Cathy self. On the third evening of our stay as we arrive at a restaurant for a dinner out, he suddenly comes out of his shell exclaiming how depressing our friend's house feels. Later, he vows to go to a coffee house or the library the next day to actually get some work done on his laptop.

We were one of the lucky ones. I did not have to click my ruby slippers three times to get back home (good thing, because I didn't pack them for the evacuation). Our house did not burn down. We are so thankful to all of the firemen that worked day and night, risking their own lives (and many losing their own homes to this fire) and grateful that there were no lives lost nor bodily injuries. But as devastating as losing one's home and the memories within it is, if you had the opportunity to rebuild, to layout the house with the views that best feed your soul, to create the space with the style that you love, the materials that feel right on the end of your fingertips, what would that look like?

1 comment:

  1. Shaun,
    A touching story - eager to read some more when I get the time. I totally agree with how our surroundings and our space affect us on a deeper level than the external one of obvious "comfort." Look forward to checking in occasionally. You're a remarkable woman. Thank you for sharing! HUGS!


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