Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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I Choose House Fire

During yet another one of my post-fire panic attacks the other day, Serge said something that really stuck with me. He's wise, my husband. I still want to kick him in the balls more than 50% of the time, but usually, when I need him to be, he can really bust out with common sense and wisdom.

Serge said that, if you think about it, if we had to go through some kind of horrible scenario, a house fire is definitely the way to go. Like, if God (or whatever) was eyeballing our family and saying, it's time to toss them some shit to deal with then a house fire is optimum.

If God said okay Bielankos, here are a smorgasbord of tragedies - pick one. Dog gets hit by car. Divorce. God forbid something happen to one of the kids. Spiral into horrible debt. Cancer. Major car crash that seriously injures one of us. Death of a family member. Or devastating house fire during which no one is injured.

I choose house fire every time.

Not only did we get the best tragedy, but the results, the un-fucking-believable outpouring of support from friends, family, the internet, you guys... well, in a way, in a very weird way, it makes the house fire just about the coolest thing to happen to us, if you get what I'm saying.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not skipping down lanes or anything, but in between the panic attacks and the not sleeping, the certainty that something bad is about to happen, the constant worry that this new house we're renting is probably on fire and the realization each day of yet another thing we lost in the fire, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Gratitude that everyone is okay, gratitude that so many people all over the world rallied, within hours, to help us pick up the pieces.

We're renting a new house about thirty minutes away from the old place. It's clear out here in the country, except it's in a bigger town than our old little village. But really, when I say "big town" that's in comparison to the thirty-ish houses in our old village. This town has a "country general store" (exciting!) a bank and a post office run by Fran, who already knows me by name. That's what I mean by bigger. But it's so far away from Bellefonte, the nearest city in which we spent all our time. The YMCA is far away, the kids' swimming lessons, Kindermusik - all the stuff we spent six months acclimating ourselves to is really far away. But I'm determined to make the drive. To keep everything normal for the kids although I have a feeling running at the gym with my elderly pals will be the first thing to bite the dust. A weekly swimming lesson is one thing, but an hour drive just to go to the damn gym probably ain't gonna happen.

But, well, I guess that's okay. When it warms up and when I stop mainlining junk food as a comfort - hopefully I can get outside and explore our new surroundings. This new house and the town we now live in is fascinating and filled with interesting characters. This house is even older than our last house - which is slightly terrifying from an electrical wiring perspective - but we are nothing if not obsessed with electrical wiring now and I could probably wire your bedroom for you at this point as we've had the local electrician here no less than three times to check wiring, correct some mistakes and let us know how many amps each outlet can take.

I just wanted to again thank you guys and our non-virtual friends and neighbors (who spent their weekend digging through wet and ashy rubble helping us move) because y'all are the reason we have been able to put one foot in front of the other and just keep on keeping on.

Reader Comments (11)

Monica, I'm glad to hear that you and your family are trying to pick up the pieces and move forward. About 4 years ago, I lived in an apartment that caught fire and it was absolutely terrifying. Luckily, we didn't lose much by way of material things, but the experience itself was quite damaging. I will never forget the image of a firefighter taking an axe to the side of our "home". I had nightmares for weeks and was obsessively checking things for longer, but my comfort level eventually reached a normal point again. Yours will too. I was mostly obsessed with the thought that if it had happened just an hour later, I would have been at work and my precious dog would have been trapped inside - or the fact that my neighbors had a new born baby that could have been affected. Nevertheless, all was well and no one was hurt in my incident either. You're a strong woman and I know you will be fine!

Enjoy that country general store - those rock!

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

i've been sending love to Serge because we've never actually (or virtually) met, but I just wanted to send you some love too....from Ireland (by way of Philadelphia) XOXO

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternancy

wow. i can't even begin to put myself in your shoes, and i know that even at the worst of times it is good to keep perspective and thank the universe for how lucky you are... even at the hardest moment of your life... but still, it is a terrible thing to happen and you and your family will hopefully get a chance to mourn the losses, the material, the memories, the peace of mind, the innocence you lose after a big moment like this.
all the best, and be easy on yourselves :-)

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteranother monica

I must agree though no tragedy would have been better. It's good to hear that you and your family are okay.

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBea_OT

You both are cool and amazing. Love to you.

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlison

PLUS the odds of any of you ever being in a house fire again are almost nil. So you lost some "stuff," it's just stuff. (not making light of it, of course) Everyone is there and healthy and still together. What a blessing!

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJacqueline

Thanks so much for keeping us all up to date with life after that horrible day. Ive been thinking of you from the other side of the world (Newcastle, Australia) and im so glad that life is starting to slowly get back to a kinda normal (((hugs))).

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda

Serge´s perspective is healthy and real and perspective is all everything is about. What you lost were only things that can be replaced. It was not even your house. You were lucky enough to get out unharmed. You kept so much more than what was destroyed. You´re moving into a new house two weeks after the old one caught fire, how many percent of the world population do you think would be able to do that?
Working in developing countries, I assure you, you´re still rich. Whenever I think really bad things happen to me I ask myself, what would women in Kabul or Monrovia or even the Balkans think if they heard me whining over a miscarriage or the loss of a job or a home? What would their angle be on my issues? It never fails to make me realize I´m lucky and blessed after all.
All the best.

January 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermidnightingale

Sometimes husbands have the best, most reassuringly practical outlooks.

So glad you guys are getting reaclimated. Just wish I could spell it.

January 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaggie May

Wow, we lost our house to debt a few months ago and I thought that was hard...You are very brave to look at things that way and I hope your life will fall back into a routine/normality sonner than later!

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOana

I just wanted to ay that whatever happens happens and there is nothing you can do about it and the next thing is that it is impossible to rain every single day so I think that there should be something good in your life in the nearest possible future!
Barb, admin of typing speed test

May 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarb Arellano

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