The first time my house burned down was in 1969, when I was twelve years old. The second time my house burned down was on Labor Day, 2010, during the Four Mile Canyon Fire. So I have been through this twice. Can you believe it?
I was out of town on both occasions. In 1969 I was at a slumber party at a friend’s house; in 2010 I was kayaking in Port Townsend, Washington. Being out of town meant there was good news and bad news. The good news was that my precious little dog, Nellie, was with me in Washington. The bad news was that while many of my neighbors had time to pack their SUVs with their family treasures, the sum total of what I saved from the fire was what was in the back of my car – the dog, a kayak, and the clothes I packed for the trip. Period.
The day after the fire I had to drive 1,500 miles across country, alone, with the dog and the kayak, knowing my house had burned down.
As my god-daughter, who is 20, said, “Wow. That’s Epic.” Epic indeed.
About Andi O’Conor, PhD:
I’m a public speaking coach, teacher, researcher and former University professor living in the town of Boulder, Colorado. I am also a descendant of Rory O’Conor, the last High King of Ireland. This knowledge gives me great inner strength, which comes in handy when say, your house burns down. Twice.
I am also single, which concerns people who do not know me. One very sweet couple started to cry when I told them I was single and my house had burned down. “You’re going through this alone? Oh my God…” the wife said. “I’m single,” I said, “But not alone. Definitely not alone.”
Remember that line in the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” where Clarence the Angel writes to George Bailey, “No man is a failure who has friends?” Well, no woman is alone who has friends. And I have friends, indeed. More than I ever knew possible.
My friends are the source of this writing – all of these essays are e-mails I wrote (and continue to write) to them after the fire.
This is the chronicle of my Journey Through Fire. And brace yourself, because not all of it is pretty.
Click here to read my story from the beginning.