Home

I wrote about the fire and the temporary permanence we lived in for close to two years. But I haven’t written about coming home.


There were of course the expected delays in the build. The took a while floors, the joinery too and each had their own knock on effect. But in the last week of May we got the keys on the Friday. We hired a van, bought a shed load of flat pack furniture and over the weekend we moved.

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That Friday I spent the house night building furniture. I am somewhat of an IKEA master and knew from the outset this was going to be tough. Two wardrobes, a bed, two desks, a rather large chest of drawers, bookcase and a bunch on incidentals awaited me. I went and bought an electric screwdriver and every hex key attachment you would need and settled in. I came come at 1am, slept and was back at the house by 8am.

My wife packed up the rental. The problem with losing all your stuff is that you have to replace it – most of it. While there is plenty of superfluous stuff in our lives there are also plenty of ‘essentials’. Technologies and objects that make life easier. Goods that we have that we only use occassionaly, but are vital when called upon. But it’s funny how quickly you accumulate. The rental was fully furnished, so lucky we didn’t have to move much furniture (hence the flat pack frenzy), but there were clothes and games and utensils and stuff to preen and clean and smell better. Toys – so many toys for such a short while, many given to us from those helping out in the aftermath – they were sorted, packed and many given new homes.

Over that weekend all the furniture was erected, stuffed and filled. The house was a mess for a few more days as we began to unpack – and then I left. Off to Oklahoma for the Domains Conference. I left my wife and daughter alone in this new/old place.

My daughter didn’t really remember the house. We had looked at photos but it didn’t click. Saturday she walked in to her new room. Immediately she had her place – the bed, the dresser/desk, wardrobe with her clothes, bookcase with her books and boxes of toys. It became recognisable as her space within minutes.

The house was unpacked, clean and warm when I got home. I hadn’t learnt how to use the new appliances – induction cooktop and fancy oven – so it felt alien at first. But life didn’t stop, it kept ticking with the beat and we slowly got back to the rhythm.

School is close now, a quick walk around the corner. It was bitingly cold some mornings – but I love holding hands with my daughter and chatting as we made out way to class on the cold mornings.

The house is so warm. We’d been used to the typical Australian design feature of gaps and drafts in all our other houses. They let the cold air in and the warm air out in winter, vice versa in summer. We’d decided to spend the money and replace all the external doors and windows with double glazed units and the new building codes required floor and ceiling insulation. The new heating and cooling meant every room could be warmed just so – it was amazing. Can’t wait for summer now 🙂

We spent money doing stuff to the house. There are more cupboards everywhere and a new bathroom. We’ve ditched the deco elements (not necessarily by choice) and embraced modernism. We picked bold primary colours, bright whites and inky blacks. We installed a Mondrian in the kitchen and went redder on the cupboards.

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The laundry is white with a splash of blue and the bathroom opening is golden. The little (expensive) touches were worth it the custom vanity and bench works for that small space. The antique brass finish on the taps is a relief from the standard chrome. I love the patina they’re developing.

The appliances, which were a considerable sticking point in our dispute with the insurance company, work really well. I love the control of modern electric appliances – and now I have that back, where the numbers on the dial means something – not just too hot or not hot enough.

But all that is nothing. It’s just stuff. It’s ours and it’s done but in reality it’s kind of inconsequential.

But what does matter is that I feel like I’m back home, in my place, the one my wife and I made. The one we worked on, and put our sweat and blood into. The one we had to fight for. The one where we bought our daughter to just 2 days after she was born. Where she grew and took her first steps. Where we celebrated birthdays and got together with family and friends. Where we cuddled together on Sunday mornings, bleary eyed and half asleep and watched movies, drank warm drinks and ate eggs.

There’s a few outstanding jobs in the house. We haven’t even touched the yard. But life is good now. We are happy with our spot. Home.

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Years End

I’ve tried a couple of times to write this post and failed. There’s a bunch of rejected drafts and I don’t know if this really encapsulates everything, but it gets closest. I’m still processing everything that has happened and am trying to work out what exactly it is I want to say, but I guess what I really want is to just record what 2016 was.

One of the hardest years I’ve had to live through.

Last year we had The Fire and I thought that losing pretty much all your possessions (clothes, treasures, instruments, music, technology, data, and all manner of things and stuff) would be the worst thing that could happen to you. Well, I was wrong, wait till to you have to deal with an insurance company.

The fallout from the fire has made the last twelve months just almost unbearable. We’ve had to deal with the chronic delays in getting anything done, inadequate paperwork, poor communication and an insurance company that seems reluctant to actually give us what our policy states. So we had to complain, and in doing so descended into another layer of hell. We’ve been in conflict for most of this year in an effort to just get home.

We have had to fight for everything. We had to fight in order to get anything done – from builders, to financial, from paperwork to any updates on progress. Everything (literally everything) this year has been a battle in terms of the company that ended up going all the way to the Financial Ombudsman Service where we finally reached an agreement to resolve our claim. A resolution that is basically them paying us the amount of money required to actually finish the job, and we who have to employ our own builder and project manage it all in order finish the job. Because this is what our house looks like:

This is the video I took the day we made our submission to the ombudsman’s office. This is 14 months after the fire. This is all the insurance company and the builder they employed were able to achieve in that time. The house didn’t burn to the ground and was structurally sound, all that had to happen was that it was repaired to its original specifications. We weren’t asking for more that, in fact we were ultimately making a number range of sacrifices and compromises in order to just get back home. But no one seemed to want to help us do that.

This process has confirmed all those worst fears about corporate motivations and how everything boils down to an economic rationale – they just didn’t want to pay out. They did everything in their power to delay paying us out any money. If they could pay less or not at all, then that was the course of action that was would choose. If they could delay making a decision, that’s what they would choose. The way they dealt with us a people was driven by this penny-pinching and economic rationale.

I wrote previously that

Logic is not your friend, it is the path to despair.

Logic in dealing with an insurance company is your worst enemy simply because things that make sense and seem reasonable don’t happen. They don’t happen because there is no economic rationale to support logic. It’s like an alternate universe where all the rules that govern physics and chemistry are completely reversed and randomised so that you’re unable to actually understand or comprehend anything. Nothing conforms to the norms and rules that you are used, the fundamentals and basis for understanding are gone.

Dealing with this ate up all my time and energy this year. And I was so driven and unrelenting in pursuing it because of how much fucking effort we had put into that house. The house didn’t represent just our Home, it was a portfolio piece and a testimonial to the literal blood, sweat and tears that went into making it ours. There was the mad rush to patch and paint when we first bought it. We drafted in friends and family to give us help get us get rid of the brown paint that adorned all the walls. There was putting up with a completely inadequate kitchen that was designed for little people and required you to stoop to wash the dishes. It had also no bench space and weird antiquated appliances that I refused to use for fear of explosions. It represents the amount of effort that was required to save and work along our career paths in order to fund the renovation work that we ended up doing. The kitchen that we spent huge amounts of time designing and tweaking and finding just exactly the things that we wanted. There was also the final nesting period before our daughter was born. I spent hours and hours patching and repairing the horse-hair plaster ceiling in her room as we finally put all the finishing touches on to get things ready for our little daughters arrival.

And we had that house for a couple of years. This little house, perfect for us and an encapsulation of who we were and what we had achieved.

And then The Fire happened.

And then the insurance company had happened.

And in essence what was under threat was our ability to go back and restore the little house that was ours, that we created and worked so hard for.

And so it drove me. Incessantly to argue, to fight and to doggedly go back and argue and complain and to complain more loudly until we were listened to.

But all we ended up settling was the policy, there’s no way to really compensate you for anything that you’ve suffered in this process. There is no real punishment for the insurance company either. There are no consequences for their bad behaviour towards us. Our case just gets marked as “resolved” because we accepted their offer, and the offer was purely to do what we were contractually required to do. There’s no penalty on the insurance company for the really shitty behaviour that they exhibited – the threats, the bullying, the delays. There were no consequences for their actions – we are the only ones that have to deal with those. We are the ones left inconvenienced. We are the ones left out of our home for 14 months and counting. We are the ones who have had to fight Every. Single. Day.

This year I’ve probably been the most stressed that I’ve ever had and that has had a really negative effect on my quality of life. It had an effect on my health and my motivation and my work. Trying to cope with the ongoing stress has eaten up so much time and effort that it’s literally drained me of energy. The decisions about food, activity, exercise, family and friends became secondary to just simply trying to get on with the fight and refuel and recover for the next battle. Because this is what this was, a series of ongoing battles, of getting one thing sorted only for the next one to rear its head. And then the next and the next. This wasn’t like a boxing match that was over in twelve rounds, this was more than twelve months of the fighting, twelve months of round after round, battle after battle, and it has worn me down mentally and physically. In the middle of November I broke. I got sick with the flu but since then health wise it’s been a bit slide. I’ve got pills to take but the real change that’s needed is much broader. I need time to heal and to make changes to a lot of aspects of my life – things that this Temporary Permanence doesn’t help.

One thing I’ve got out of this is an understanding of how neglectful I’ve been. I bought this on myself by not caring about me and now I have to deal with the consequences of being stressed for so long and having this kind of tension as a consistent companion. Physically and mentally I’ve been damaged by this experience, and I feel so guilty about doing that to the people I love most. I neglected myself, sacrificed in order to put my world right – and for what? A house? Want to guess how stupid I feel now?

This mental grind has transformed into physical consequence and I have to deal with it, and it is not a quick fix. It’s not just take a pill and it will be alright, this is going to be months of making significant life changes and improvements. Why these things didn’t take place was because there was no energy left to eat properly, exercise well, be mentally clear, be available to friends and family – all that got taken up by the fighting with the insurance company and dealing with this stupid claim.

So apart from all the celebrities dying, Trump, the rise of right-wing lunacy, the media falling over, Facebook and Twitter fuelling hate like petrol on a fire – apart from all that, 2016 has just been an atrocious year.

Previously, these end of year posts are a reflection on what is essentially year-on-year personal growth, but I think this year I’ve gone backwards. It’s an uncomfortable feeling knowing that you need to change quite significantly and that you fucked up. I’ve learnt that you really can’t neglect is yourself, your health and your friends and family and you can’t expect there to be no consequences when you do. And that’s kind of what 2017 will be for me – dealing with the consequences of a shitty year and some pretty awful decisions.

Maybe I’m not alone in that, maybe that’s what most people will be up to next year given what’s happened in 2016.

I suppose I’ll come out of this with at least one victory under my belt – that we did beat the insurance company. In the end it took a lot to get there but that doggedness that persistence paid off and now we can do things properly and we can get back home. We can return and inhabit that space and importantly apply that energy to making things better.

My daughter is going off to school next year and that is such a huge milestone in our lives. She inspires me to keep on going, to do better and to be better. 2017 is about change and about making things better and while there might not necessarily be growth, and that things might actually be really tough next year, it’s a time to bunker down and draw on our reserves. We are resilient and persistent creatures, and if I’ve learnt anything from this experience it’s that we can keep going, and we can keep standing up for what we need to stand up for.

On Dealing with Insurance Companies

I’ve spent a great deal of time dealing with our insurance company over the last ten months since The Fire, and more so in the last month since lodging an official complaint. It doesn’t look like we’ll be in our house within the year since we lost everything, and at this point lucky if we’ll be in before Christmas. We are tired, stressed and sad, yet we have to put on a brave face everyday in order to continue at least the appearance of normal for our child and our work.

In the last couple of weeks that’s become incredibly difficult and both of us have faltered, cracked and broken down. I thought nothing could be as bad as losing everything you owned, but dealing with an insurance company has proven otherwise. The process attaches the extremely raw emotional ties to something as important as ‘home’, to a beauracratic and uncaring behemoth in order to reach some kind of resolution. You can imagine the results are less than stellar. 
Here’s some of what I’ve learnt in the process:

You are not in control. Despite this being an intensely personal subject, decisions will be made for you, not by you. You will be disconnected from concepts like “home” and “normal” the more the claim drags on. Logic is not your friend, it is the path to despair. Conflict is the only way to achieve an outcome. Ask for everything in writing, if they won’t do it, there’s a problem you are not aware of. Ask for every document related to your claim, there are mistakes everywhere. Create a timeline and keep track of every interaction. Let nothing slide longer than a week. Set reminders and make demands. Cry and scream, do not try to bottle it up and put on a brave face. Everyone will understand your circumstances, except the insurance company.

Temporary Permanence

This is a long post that seeks to join three threads together. It’s taken a while to get to this point and it is definitely something I am still actively thinking through. Feedback appreciated.

1. Home (or the lack there of)

I haven’t really written about my personal life for quite some time, not since The Fire from last year. Part of that’s been a choice of mine not to publicly discuss and publish my experiences and those of my family. Part of it was an inability to actually articulate the emotions of dealing with the loss of our home and everything that entails.

Now that we’re coming up to ten months since the fire and we’re still not in back in our house, I feel the need to describe the state that we’ve been living in. I don’t want to start “pity party” – but there is something in this uncomfortable reality that’s been part of our everyday lives. A force and effect that has been shaping our physical, mental and emotional state that I would would describe as temporary permanence.

The temporary part relates to the fact that at some point we will be moving home and rebuilding our physical spaces along side the emotional space around that thing that we call Home. When, where and how seems ephemeral, but it will happen eventually. It’s been telling not to have Home as part of our lives. It isn’t simply a physical building, it’s a combination of different spaces and states that act as an anchor, a reset point, and a refuge. Being without a Home has led to a very different kind of mental and emotional mindset that guides how we think, feel and deal with our day-to-day lives.

The Permanent component is the fact that this has been going on for soooo long that it no longer looks, feels or smells like something that’s temporary. When I consider the what is temporary, I picture a couple of months at best (or worst). But dealing with the loss of our home has been going on now much longer than that.

This temporary mindset has been going on for so long that it is now embedded into our routine physically and mentally. The temporary has become part of the permanent. There is significant distance between Home and where we are now. We exist in a transient state that combines the features of both the temporary and the permanent. We stand on, in and between two different temporalities. Two completely different realities and ways of seeing, interacting and rules for operating in.

It reminds me of the demountable buildings used so often by schools. Designed to be be bought in on a truck and erected quickly to house students during a crisis, like extra enrolments or to carry out repairs to a building, they lack the fixtures and fittings of a permanent space. They’re used for something that can clearly be judged as a temporary measure, but they don’t ever seem to go away. Over time they become a permanent fixture, they don’t stop being used and they’re never actually demounted and moved somewhere else. They stay and become permanent fixtures, looking awkward and out of place as they settle into the landscape. That idea of something designed to be temporary, living in a permanent space is what I’m feeling. It’s a juxtaposition a whole bunch of questions and choices that seemingly contradict each other. Choices that work in a temporary space are not built to cope with permanence and vice versa.

This manifests itself in this concept of Home and the role it plays in our lives. We are/were lucky to have access to temporary rental accommodation that came fully furnished, a rarity in Australia. At the time it was a godsend not to have to rush out and buy furniture for a place that was always going to be temporary for us. We could just move in and inhabit the space . That was fine and accepted in a temporary mindset, this is only going to be a couple of months, after that we’ll be Home. Back to our place, our stuff, our space, our choices and decisions. Until then we were OK with what the temporary afforded us because we knew that soon enough we’d be house with our own fixtures and fittings and personal items.

Ten months on and it doesn’t quite feel the same. The clear edge between what is temporary and what is permanent is gone. The furnished state of this house is now a cumbersome burden that impedes us from really claiming the spaces as Home and provides a constant reminder that this isn’t our space. We are foreigners here. This is not our Home, and that has a direct effect on how we process things emotionally and how those emotions influence our lives. So little things like the appliances in the kitchen, the furniture layout and configuration of the rooms begins to grate on you. They’re so foreign to the Home that we left and become an impediment to engaging with the space and to treating it like our home. And that sentiment seeps into the rest of your life. In many ways that disconnect becomes part of how you live life. You begin to act, behave and care like this is all just temporary. It seeps in that deeply. You have to adapt to what’s here and what’s present and now, and that is starkly different to what was. Your whole life becomes a nice place to visit but at least I don’t have to live there! But now you do, the length of time spent dealing with the temporary has constructed a permanence that changes everything.

The place that was a refuge is now a prison. This place now mounds every aspect of your life – your hopes, dreams and aspiration. Your thoughts and feelings become detached as realities and temporalities collide. Life becomes stuck, a victim of this Temporary Permanence.


2. An Age of Temporary Permanence

In the last few weeks, having got to the point where I can recognise and articulate this experience, there has been a profound recognition that this is a lived experience for so many people on this planet. This disorientation and contradiction and the affect of temporary permanence is a global state. For every refugee in the world that it’s displaced, this is their reality. The refugee camps that were seen as a release and a safe haven from conflict become prisons over time. Where years are spent readjusting and living in not just temporary accommodation, but temporary lives, cut off from Home but also work, family, community and place. My affinity is limited to just to place, I don’t have any other trauma to deal with, so by no means do I want to compare what my family have been through with those of refugees. But I understand now that kind of disruptive emotional state that temporarily permanence places on someone.

There’s a stress and conflict created by the inability to divide the temporary and the permanent, they actually co-exist within the same space. For us it’s been the constantly changing timelines of the process of rebuilding. We’ve kind of gone from thinking that this is a short term temporary thing to not actually knowing when we will ever be in our house due to the continuing delays.

I think this is the root of it is that I don’t think we are designed as humans to cope with that coexistence of temporalities. That the temporary and the permanent need to be separate in order for us to cope. The ambiguities around time lines is the disrupting force here. These changes affect emotions and the way that our brains cope with the information and the situations we find ourselves in. We can’t rely on our mindsets and processes from our previous experiences. This is like nothing you’ve ever felt or experienced before, and most people don’t and won’t experience this.


3. Temporary Acts Permanently Changing Lives

Perhaps the most stark example of the effect of the Temporary Permanence was captured in the recent footage from ABC Australia’s Four Corners program, Australia’s Shame. Of greatest concern for me was the fact that children were being a locked up in solitary confinement for arbitrary and extended periods of time. There was now defined dates or times for these kids. The rules around adult solitary confinement were completely ignored and I am deeply concerned about the psychological and mental state of those children. This is situation where Temporary Permanence is harmful, and we watched as these kids cracked over time. The inability to attached themselves or their lives to anything permanent, the fact that what was supposed to be temporary punishment become a permanent state, that these kids were already damaged by the system – it creates a powder keg, and the resulting explosion is that of a young persons life.

The Fire

Tonight was going to be a good night. I was booked in to speak at Nerd Nite, so I left work a little early to have one final practice. I was nervous about my ending – I had a couple of lines I really wanted to memorise and nail to round out the talk. 

It was then I got a phone call. The number on the dash said Unknown. I don’t usually answer these calls but I did today. I hit the answer button on the steering wheel. Usually they’re telemarketers, today it was a police officer. 
I confirmed my identity and address. I was then informed there had been a fire at my home address. OK. I was literally a block away. I turned into the street still speaking to the officer sitting in the paddy wagon with the flashing lights at the entrance to our street. 

There were two fire trucks in the middle of the road. A hose linked to the hydrant in the middle. It was full and snaked it’s way up the the road. There were maybe four other police cars creating a strobic pulse of red and blue across my field of vision. 

Thank god my wife was at work. Thank god my daughter was at day care. Thank god we were safe. 

I got out and was informed of what was happening. A fire in the front bedroom. Our bedroom. The glass was shattered and in some spots looked melted and fused like toffee sitting on the sill. The bricks were stained black. 

Firefighters all kitted up in their gear walked in and out carrying an array of equipment. The fire was out. It was limited to the bedroom but the other widows, and what I could see inside, was stained black. Black and burnt. Soot and ash. 

The station commander spoke with me to get the lay of the land. Where were the powerpoints? What was plugged in? At the same time guys from the power company claimed up the ladder and disconnected the wire. The umbilical to the house was severed. I guess it was safe now. Dead, but safe. 

It was then I was told there were signs of forced entry. Fuck. I mentally check the events of the day. I’d dropped my wife and daughter off and had then gone home to practice of my talk. I’d locked everything up, checked the back door was bolted. This wasn’t me being being absent minded, even when I’m absent minded I always go to check and double check myself. There’s a compulsion to just make sure, you don’t want it to be the one time…

Detectives arrived. They took down details and asked questions. 

Fuck. What is going on? I tried to call my wife but couldn’t get her. I called Mum. I told her what happened. A fire at our house… but I didn’t know anything else. I’ll let you know when I do. I called my wife again. No answer. Just her too pleasant, too normal sounding voicemail. This wasn’t the time for normal. 

More questions and answers. Fire and Police quizzing me. I’m good at trivia, but the minutae of our lives? Not so much. Questions about locks and doors and windows. I think I told them the wrong date of birth for my daughter. My mind just went blank. 

What about the photos? Shit, what had I backed up? How much was in the cloud? Oh god, I can’t get those back. 

“Was there a TV in the front room?”

“Ahhh …. Yeah. Next to the window there.”

“TVs gone.”

The detective scrawled that down. 

Shit they took stuff too? 
The computer? The hard drives? 

Jesus. 
How much had I properly backed up to the cloud? Stupid internet. If it hadn’t been so fucking slow! 

What else did they take? We don’t even own anything expensive! 

Wife calls. I spoonerise the news. “There’s been a house at the fire”. We curse and cry and breath relief that each body is safe and our little one is oblivious. 

I don’t know what was next. Questions. Weird ones. Why is my mouth so dry? What kind of stress reaction is that? I couldn’t tell or scream or cry if I wanted. The liquid in my body has evaporated. I spot the quaffed look of a reporter and a camera with a long lens. I had a camera in there. We’ll make the news. Wow this IS news! 

Shit my talk. 

My wife arrives and we hug. Her eyes are red and splotchy already. Fuck. It’s our common word, one we share in this moment. 

My uncle appears. The family newswire at work.  He’s offers a hand. A supportive “fuck” and an optimistic perspective. It’s all just stuff. You can repair and rebuild all that. You can … I guess. 

Aunty arrives too. Hugs and tears. I’ve got them too now. 

I don’t know what to do. I could handle the questions. Now we’re just waiting. A fan to blow the smoke. Spot checks and heat sensors. The carbon monoxide is still a bit high. “You can go in and grab some essentials”. But I don’t have any. No clothes. No socks. No underpants. I have what I’m wearing. They’re all burnt. 

When we go in – its devastating. The light open house with its white walls, wooden floors and red kitchen we knew and created is all stained black. Black that drips down the walls. Ash and plaster on the floor. The bedroom door is charred through. And everything is gone. 

It’s not the fire that shocks me. They took everything. Computer, DVD player, my guitars (all of them), the fucking modem?!? The reverse cycle unit has melted down the wall. 

Doors and drawers opened. Units moved. Everything rummaged and ruined. And then the fire on top of that? Are you kidding me?

The air is acrid. Wife is crying. I don’t want to be here. They took my bike. The one I’d just bought to replace the one that got stolen. The one I kept inside to stop it from being stolen. They took that too. 

I head into my daughters room. Past her “art wall”. All those bright colours now stained black too. Her bedroom seems untouched. Ash, but not the thick black that drips down everywhere else. Her toy animals are there. What do I take? We can come back, but not till tomorrow. We take her bunny. I grab the two photos of her and a friend too, just so that there’s something real to salvage. I check the garage, they left that. Our childhood treasures look like they’re still there. Lawn mower too. 

That’s kind of it. Forensics in the morning and some poor sod is on guard all night. We shake hands. 

“I need to do something”. I try to be practical in a moment of despair and loss and grief. Distraction so I don’t have to think about all this. We need pyjamas, socks, underpants. It dawns on me – I have no clothes anymore. No shoes. 

We thank Uncle and Aunty. Family means so much right now. There’s text messages coming in. 

We head to KMart. Cheap and painless shopping. Function trumps style. No-one here knows that this is all we have. These three little bags. 

We head to Mums. She has our everything. Picked her up from daycare and entertained her. We have a hug. Wife tells her the news. On the way we agreed she should know. She has to know sometime that we aren’t going home. That some of her stuff is gone. The television gets tears. It’s been good to her. 

We hug and talk and I call the insurance company. I don’t know how this works. I’ve never done this before. I don’t even know what happens next. Tonight, nothing I guess. I talk to family text and chat. How do I tell everyone else? Facebook I guess. My talk… 

We eat a little. The little one stays up till eight. Way past bedtime. She’s tired. So are we. So are the phones, as batteries are on red but we have no chargers. It’s the little things. 

Late night shopping. I can get more. We can power up overnight. Supermarket too, for toothbrushes and deodorant. The little things. 

Home and sit. I’m drained. Messages and support. It’s nice. Comforting. The world is a nice place, people ARE good. 

Except for the ones who break in, take all your stuff and then to rub salt into the wound – burn you house. 
There’s lots of small things. Little reminders. Tomorrow we’ll dig through the ash and find big things. We’ll salvage what’s left. 
It’s weird, knowing you’ve lost almost every physical object you’ve ever know. It’s not the stuff though – it’s the sentiment. It’s every single choice and process that went into acquiring it. It’s the loss of the effort involved. This stuff didn’t just appear. It came from working and planning and striving. And now it’s gone. 

PS: Thanks to our neighbours and the emergency services. They did an amazing job today and I am truly thankful. 

PPS: We made the news