It seems like so long ago, it doesn't seem like only five years have gone by.

I remember it was a humid day. I was annoyed that morning because Banky the cat had been meowing at me to feed him. I dressed up a little that day, because I had an on air interview with some folks from Making The Band. I started the dishwasher. I grabbed my laptop, my camera, my cell phone, and out I went for the day.

The day itself was normal. I was expecting to be late, so I asked my father to go over to the apartment and feed the kitties for me. I remember the phone kept ringing in the KXKX studios, over and over. I was busy doing something, so I didn't answer. But it wouldn't stop. So I finally picked up. It was a listener (who I'm not sure knew I lived there) telling me that the building was on fire. I was skeptical. I thought, "No, somebody just had a kitchen fire or something..."

But it started nagging at me. So I texted my Dad again, and asked him to check it out for me, as he was just a few blocks down. After about ten minutes I started to get nervous, because he hadn't texted or called. So I told my boss what was going on, and I left. I remember a salesperson offered to drive me, but I didn't want that.

I drove over, and started panicking. I broke down a little, and chided myself, thinking, come on, it's okay. I got there and it was just a mess of a scene. They weren't going to let me near it until I told them I lived there.

There were a lot of us who lived in the building standing all around. A lady I had seen in passing in the parking garage ran up to me, and asked me if I had seen her Grandmother. I pointed to the other end of the parking lot, where she was sitting, safe. One lady told me it would all be okay, she lost a three thousand dollar vacuum.  She said it was just stuff, it could be replaced. I guess she meant well, but I would have thrown a three thousand dollar vacuum off the roof if it meant I could get my Grandmother's locket from World War Two back. You can't replace that.

It was a lot of standing in the heat and crying, really. My sister came, my cousins came, and eventually someone made me leave. I went to my sister's house and she gave me some pill to calm me down. I showered and she gave me some clothes to wear. I was in a kind of.... trance, I guess. I couldn't believe it. I just couldn't believe it. It was like a massive weight was on my chest. It was hard to breathe. My mind went blank.

I remember I did a show that week, I think I took the day off after the fire, but was back the next day. I had nothing else to do. What was I going to do, sit at home and stare at things? I talked about what I was feeling, what made me mad, what made me sad, what ever crossed my mind.

Eventually people reached out and did what they could to help, it was just so amazing to see. Their generosity was astounding. Fast forward a little, there was the Dukes and Boots benefit, the Red Cross gave me some essentials, and The St Paul's Lutheran Church helped out. People I had never met or people I hadn't spoken to in years offered me anything they could. I had an advertising client I had never met in person from the stations come to my sister's house personally and give me a check (I won't embarrass them by naming them).

Here's something I haven't admitted (hopefully I won't get in trouble).  They let us go back and see if we could salvage anything about a week or so after the fire. I didn't go in because... I just couldn't. But, a while later, when I had gotten out of my sister's and gotten a new apartment.... I went in. I snuck in, I trespassed on my apartment. I had to know. I had to see.

Someone had.......... preceded me. The place was just ransacked. And it wasn't just from the fire or the water, either.  For example, an $80 bottle of perfume was in my downstairs bathroom, in the medicine cabinet.  I guess the fire just.... took it? Nope. Everything else in there was intact. Guess they didn't want my Devil Duck bandages. My jewelry box was just gone. Hope you enjoyed stealing my class ring! That hurt more than I'd like to admit, that someone felt like our tragedy was their opportunity to gain.

I never did find Banky or Pauline. I didn't want to. Part of me hoped they got out, and that someone had taken them in. But I didn't want to find them in the foot of debree on the floor.

I was starting to get overwhelmed. I took a few things and ran out. My heart was going a mile a minute. I didn't think I was necessarily doing anything wrong TECHNICALLY, but I was still nervous.

That night I sat on the couch that was given to me by my cousin, next to the desktop computer given to me by a stranger, and marveled at how crazy things had gotten. I thought to myself, well, "It kind of IS just stuff, you know. Not having it doesn't take away the memory of it."

It would have been nice to have some of the personal mementos, sure. But I moved on. I went from having too much to nothing, and I built up from that.  Not long after, maybe about two months, I met a guy. A few years later, I married him. Now I have so much going for me, so many great people in my life... I can honestly say the fire made me a better person. Not that I'm saying I would like to do that again. I drive by the lot sometimes now and wonder what could have been. But then I remember, that's over. And I didn't give up.

I'm proud of myself for that.


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