Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The House that is no more

Ever since my junior year of high school, my parents were looking for somewhere else to live. We would have bought this one house that was on Colonel Glenn Road, but we couldn't get a good enough offer on our current house in order to justify the move. They tabled the search until my freshman year of college, when they purchased some land out around Cabot (technically it was in Austin, AR) that had a double-wide trailer on it, with the intention of selling off the trailer and building a house, which they did.

By fall of my sophomore year, our current house had been sold, the new house was in the design stages, and what wouldn't fit in the trailer was in storage units. My parents, since they still worked in Little Rock, were not living in the trailer. They were staying with a friend who lives in Jacksonville. However, come Christmas break, there was nowhere to sleep in the friend's house, so I lived alone in the trailer for the month, with occasional visits from my parents or maybe just the dog.

Lonely does not begin to describe my situation. Yes, I was alone, but compounding the issue was the fact that I had NO internet. Zip, zero, zilch. That means no news, no online gaming, no online communication. To keep myself from going completely crazy I worked at the movie theater that winter. The movie theater was the one that I had worked at before coming to college, the Riverdale 10 in Little Rock. This means that it was a seriously long drive from the house, but I didn't care. What else was I going to do? Sometimes I would bring my laptop to the movie theater and bum their internet when I was off duty, such as before my shift. But I could rarely do that, and it was really just to check news.

We had satellite TV, but nothing was interesting, which is typical. So I spent 90% of my free time playing video games. I mostly played PSP and DS games. I even played the Lord of the Rings Tactical RPG for PSP during this break. It was a terrible game that I'm pretty sure was unfinished. Some spells didn't even have animations!

I hardly ate, as well. Pop Tarts were the bulk of my diet.

There was literally nothing to do. It was the worst month ever.

Afterwards, my parents built the house, shipped off the trailer to its buyer, and moved in. The house had a very open floor plan (a great party layout) with an amazingly large, screened-in front porch. Since I worked at Hendrix that summer, I didn't live there, but I would eventually stay there the next winter break, this time with my family, but still extremely bored (despite having internet).

I went back to school again. It was now the spring semester of my junior year. One day, early in the semester, there was a knock at my window (I lived on the ground floor). My parents were there, with no previous call, and they were wearing gardening clothes. I went to the front door to let them in. Without any preface my mom told me, "The house burned down."

I was shocked. It had apparently burned down in the middle of the night. As we would later find out from the official report, they believed the cause was because the insulation was too close to the fireplace chimney. The insulation superheated , and conducted this heat to the wood of the house, setting it on fire. My parents awoke in the middle of the night to flames pouring out of the sides of the roof. They got out with the dog, and my dad was able to go in and get a change of work clothes (the fool), the laptop, and some important documents.

The house was set far from the road, with a dirt road on a hill leading up to it that cut through some trees. The first fire truck that came actually got stuck in some mud, which delayed extinguishing efforts significantly. If I remember correctly, they were delayed by at least half an hour. When they finally got up there, it was too late. Almost nothing left in the house was salvageable.

After hearing this, and after my parents left, I went back to my room and cried for a short while. The following weeks were my most productive as a student in my life. I was more on top of my assignments than ever before.

I went to the site to survey the wreckage to see if there was anything that I wanted to/could salvage. The only thing that I pulled out was the blade of this replica Lord of the Rings sword that I had, which is still in the trunk of my car, and covered in ash. Of course, I didn't have much there. Although I do still miss my D&D sourcebooks, the NES and games, and all of the Magic the Gathering and Lord of the Rings cards that I had. I had actually been planning to sell those before the fire happened (the cards, that is). I was able to claim them for insurance money, which was nice.

The wreckage was devastating. I never did find anything that said to me, "Oh, this is clearly where the pool table was." despite the fact that it has a giant piece of slate that comprised the table. Walls and ceiling were gone. My parent's bedroom was the least damaged, and in the rubble my dad was able to find my mom's wedding ring. Everything was gone, photo albums, furniture. Appliances had melted. Countertops disappeared. The word incinerated comes to mind. The Ms. Pac-Man and pinball cabinets had been destroyed. The fire pit that we had on the front porch survived, of course, and we still have it.

Burned to the ground and reduced to rubble, everything was gone.

My parents rented a house in Little Rock and moved everything we had in storage to there. They then searched for a new house in Little Rock. They found one and still live there. We lost so much in the fire. So many sentimental things. They got the rubble taken away, and sold the property.

Today we are fine, and not that much worse for it. In a way it was a blessing. My parents didn't like being so far from Little Rock, where their jobs, their friends, and everything interesting was. It was so surreal though, it's not something that you anticipate.

I'm still wary of fireplaces though, I will admit to that.