Last month I attended the Black Orchid banquet sponsored by the Nero Wolfe Society. One of the speakers was Jonathan Santlofer, author of the The Death Artist, among other books. He mentioned he'd turned to writing after a career in painting. He'd stopped painting when one day after a major exhibit, five years of his paintings were destroyed in a fire.
When I heard those words I didn't know if I was going to cry or throw up. Both seemed quite possible. I couldn't even speak to Mr. Santlofer after the event cause the only thing I could think about was that fire, even though it was clear he had come to terms with the loss, and rebuilt a new and satisfying creative life.
Fire is my worst fear. I know exactly what I'd take if we had 25 seconds to leave the building. Close friends of mine have had that experience in NYC: FDNY pounds on the door and says "get out NOW." You get over it but you never forget. We don't exactly have traditional fire drills, but we talk about what we'd take, where it's located, how we'd get out if the stairwell is blocked. We don't obsess, it's not some sort of well thought out plan, but we think about it more than just casually.
I know fire is a fear shared by many of my neighbors. I laugh about the smoke detector going off a lot, but when it does, and doesn't stop, my neighbors are in the hallway, making sure things are under control.
Close friends have spent a lot of money to scan all their original music compositions onto disk. A fire would have destroyed an entire career if the music had burned.
Thus it was with a heavy heart I learned our friend Travis Erwin has experienced a terrible fire, one that consumed his entire house. The people are safe, but the house is gone.
Susan Adrian's blog lists ways to help.
Please join me in doing so if you feel so inclined.