Today, October 22nd, 2008 marks the six-month anniversary of the inferno which destroyed 19-49 Troutman Street and shook my reality to the core. When I first arrived in Louisville I had no intention of still being here, but I am glad that I made the decision not to get on the airplane on May 5th, my original return date. I subletted a room from a friend of a friend here, struggled to get the clothing and necessities required to get a job and earn the money I needed to survive in a new place.
Day after day, boxes were delivered to me, full of generous donations from friends and strangers who wanted to help. I spent weeks of honeysuckle fragranced, spring afternoons in the hot sun writing thank-you notes and dropping them in the mailbox. Day after day, stamp after stamp. And each day that passed when I did not hear from those people who I thought were my friends was like a knife turning in my heart. With time, the pain subsided and I realized more and more the beauty and joy surrounding me in this new place, my sadness diminishing through due course of tears, bourbon, laughter, friendship, meditation and simply beginning to move on.
Someone even bought me a bicycle so I could get to and from work. The incredible acts of kindness I experienced and received helped me get through my pain and sadness as I sat, alone and knowing but one person here, wondering how my life could change so dramatically so quickly. There were days, in the beginning, I missed Kae Burke so much; I had a case of an incredibly painful broken heart. I missed Larken so much, sitting at the table with our laptops open and making calls, brainstorming, getting our names and faces recognized publically for the work we were doing. Accomplishment after accomplishment, each bigger and more surreal than the next. We were a powerful team of women, unstoppable while united.
However, while I was here healing and the rest of the people I had spent countless consecutive days with were still in New York, scattered among apartments belonging to their exes (we all somehow ended up at our exes places immediately following the fire), I felt a disconnect like no other. And above all, I deeply grieved the loss of the household cat, Pilgrim. So much, in fact, that when I met my friend David, who had moved here from Los Angeles just three weeks before I arrived, the first time I went to his house and saw Loki, an orange tabby the spitting image of Pilgrim, I cried.
But today was a great day. Not only am I baking some delicious tofu in a simple tahini marinade, I drove with a neighbor and collected wood to burn in our fire pit. Although it is probably from being out of the city and reconnecting with my love of nature, I have gotten really great at starting fires. Maybe that was The Gift of the Magi…
Anyway, since many readers did not know me before I came to Louisville, I wanted to share some of the photographs I like the most about how my life in New York City was before April 30th, 2008 when I arrived.
And finally, six months later, I still remember Pilgrim. He would appear in my dreams and save me from giant rats. After he died, he visited me in my dreams until I was safe and sound here in Louisville.
Even though Fire Prevention Week was October 5th through 11th, it is always a great time to check your home fire extinguishers and smoke alarms!