04 – It’s getting hot in here.

It was hard to identify what I was feeling as I unlocked the door to my apartment for the first time in almost a month. The smell of burnt wood and other materials filled my nose as I pulled the door open and stepped inside. It wasn’t an unpleasant smell — in fact, it was pretty similar to the smell of the bonfire we’d had in Lindsay’s yard the weekend before. I was greeted by the cute coat hanger with a cartoon dog and cat on it, now crooked, hanging on for its life by only one nail, a foreshadowing of the mess I would find up the stairs. 

I hadn’t left the place in an organized state, but what I found made my heart drop. The wall that separated the dining room and the kitchen had

been torn apart and lay all over the floor, along with random belongings that had been in the way of the firefighters doing their job. The kitchen was probably the worst off, holes torn through the wall so that you could see outside, windows broken, the large chest freezer and baker’s rack displaced from their original home and mounds of wall insulation and wood to step over. Ean’s room had the ceiling caving in, the window broken out, glass everywhere, and an overall cold and damp feeling — a mixture of its bath with the firehose and exposure to the elements.

Going through my things was the most emotional part of this whole ordeal to date. What I had meant to make a long lunch was soon revealed to 
be an all day project. To be honest, I needed more than a day, but I had to leave for Chicago, and the clock was ticking. 

Breathing in the leftover smoke and debris also wasn’t doing my lungs any favors. My room hadn’t met the fate of a lot of the rest of the house, but smoke damage made most of the clothing, my bed, and electronics unsalvageable. A look inside my gaming PC revealed a black tar-like substance all over the insides that was pulled inside by the fans, as it had still been running when I made my escape with the pets on the night of the fire. 

A lot of what I ended up saving was with the intent to gift. Things that weren’t practical to keep given my plans to travel over the next year, but seemed like a waste to leave for the demolition of the house. I did save my nice monitors that I had purchased earlier that year, a painting of my two dogs that a friend had gifted me, some video games… but mostly odds and ends other than that. The most important things to me — ashes of my dog, Smokey, and the rosary that had beads made from the roses at my grandfather’s funeral — were also able to be salvaged.

With help from Lindsay, we loaded up the back of her SUV with the remains of my former life, and left my home forever.

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