Things We Lost In The Fire

I never realized how easy it is to take the things you have for granted, until they disappear into the wind like ashes from a fire. I remember playing those awkward ice breakers with people you’ll never really know, and one question that always seems to show up is: “If you could only take three things from your house in a fire, what would they be?”

I never had a definite answer. Obviously there were the essentials: passport, laptop, cellphone, and valuables, but I never imagined that one day I’d actually have to make that decision. That one day, in a panicked hurry, I’d have to scurry across my dorm room worrying about what I should bring, and being filled with regret over the things I left behind.

On December 4th, 2017, a wildfire ignited its flames outside the place I’ve called my home for the past three years, and on December 5th, it had reached the beloved campus and destroyed multiple classrooms, the dorms, and everything in its wake. On December 4th, we were told to evacuate, and we were asked to grab a backpack for one night. We were told to pack anything we absolutely couldn’t live without, but we were also told not to worry about our other stuff, the fire would pass, and everything would be okay. So, I packed what I held closest to me. I packed my polaroid pictures recalling the memories from my sophomore year. I packed a single stuffed animal: a panda I was given in second grade. I packed my All Time Low pillow, my signed posters, a UCLA shirt, my favorite leggings, and two t-shirts.

Photo Credit: Foster Huntington

But still, there were so many belongings surrendered to the flames. I lost years of memories put up on a small cork board above my wall. There held all my concert tickets, plane tickets, medals, and setlists from concerts I had caught in the crowd. I had lost all my riding ribbons I had won in the last couple of years. I’ve lost tour t shirts, my guitar, articles of clothing which held little bits of my personality in each thread, and class notes I’ve worked on hours into the night just so I could have a good grade the next day. They weren’t the most expensive items in my life, but they were the ones that were tokens of moments in my life that I cherished, or the moments that defined me. They were the things lost in the fire that I regret leaving behind the most. I guess if I could go back in time and grab a few more things, I’d make sure they reached my bag first.

While mourning this fire, my family constantly tried reassuring me that everything was replaceable, but then they’d ask me what I missed most, and what I missed most wasn’t what was replaceable. However, despite the hard process, I come to realize that those small items I’ve lost are still there, but in the form of memories that will stay in my head forever, for the rest of my life. Someday, after all the debris descends into the ground, and the years pass, I will have new tokens from new memories to hang up above my bed, and the tragedies from this fire will soon become a distant memory, only serving reminders through the objects I saved from it.

Cremated

Here’s a list of the things I lost to the Thomas Fire:

My guitar, my ukulele, my first drum sticks. My symbols of creativity, my many memories of favorite songs and being so frustrated about my definite lack of talent!

The tapestry I bought last summer at my first music festival, that for some reason smelled like lavender and blown out candles.

My stuffed animals that I’ve had for years, that (call me a child if you want) are so much more than just “things.”

All my drawings. Those hours of concentration and enthusiasm I’ve spent throughout the past years. They probably burned the fastest.

credit: @MattHjourno on twitter

The girl’s dorm lounge, where I remember making my first friendship at this school, where I’ve spent so many hours watching Riverdale, or eating Oreos during the weekends, or working on my horrible piano skills, or watching Finding Nemo for the very first time. Now it looks like none of that has ever happened and for some reason it tears me apart.

I lost my poetry books.

My first love letter.

My band posters and shirts and bracelets and guitar picks and stickers and

my favorite dress.

My window. With my perfect view.

My door key, which now I won’t need cause my door is gone too.

My friends’ rooms with their baby pictures and yearbooks and paintings and Christmas presents and their favorite pair of sandals.

It is hard to believe that this place, the home of so many people I love so dearly, is gone without warning and without mercy.

Here’s a list of what I took with me that day:

The clothes I was wearing, and my favorite necklace. A baby picture of my siblings and me (just in case). My laptop and my backpack.

But I had no idea that everything that was left back would go up in flames within a couple hours. I thought I would come back the next day to my room with my guitar and my tapestry and my window and my posters and that everything would be fine and that our biggest problem would be the final exams we were going to have to take the next week. I wish I would’ve taken more, I wish I could’ve taken the entire dorm.

credit: ovs.org

But here’s another thing that all of OVS brought.

We brought our strength and our community and care and love amongst us. We didn’t forget our incredible OVS spirit, and to be honest I don’t think we would ever be able to forget that. 

 

 

glass cage

Off the stem the brittle petals fall,

Life is a dying flower,

Trapped inside a glass case.

Passersby see the light, but

Don’t stay for the brown,

Vile stench that comes with darkness.

When the moon rises,

The petals wilt,

But they don’t

Fall,

Just yet.

When the sun rises,

It brightens the ground,

The earth,

That was once home

To the glass-encased

Flower.

Photo Credit: giphy.com

Sparkling eyes see

The red passion

Laced within the leaves,

The sweet water rolling

In delicious beads.

They see the rich beauty

That stems behind the glass.

They see the butterfly,

Flapping its symmetrical wings,

Landing gracefully to feed.

They don’t,

However,

See the cocoon,

Broken and

Left to die because

Something beautiful could no longer

Stay ugly.

The owner forgets

To lift the glass,

And finds a wilting

Shell of a beautiful creature.

Entombed by the warm,

Glowing morning light,

The dead petals lay.

The beautiful day

Overshadows

The cold death of night.

But not to worry,

The petals will

Lift off the ground.

They will grow into

a new flower.

Passersby don’t remember

The red being that bright

The last time.

They don’t see the death.

The owner discards of

The brown petals;

The trash its new home.

Winter still comes,

Though.

The new flower still wilts,

Though.

The case still kills,

Though.

The sweet water

Ceases

To roll,

Though.

The second flower

Is but

A beautiful picture

Taken before destruction.

We all know that

The red, hot passion

Still dies with the last petal,

Though.