The love in the air is thicker than the smoke.
To say the last couple weeks have been difficult would be an understatement. They’ve been so difficult in fact, that I have been at a loss for words. Which never happens. And in the last few days, as I’ve tried to put my heart break over what happened to Sonoma County in words, I’ve been beating myself up – for two reasons. One reason is I “didn’t lose” anything. I know so many other people are also feeling this way too. We feel we have no right to mourn or to grieve. Others have lost their homes, every single thing they’ve ever owned. They lost the places they tucked their children into at night – all of it is gone. How do they rebuild?
I evacuated from three different places five times and lived without power for close to a week. I stayed up late to help protect my parents’ neighborhood from looters and generally just survived the feeling of being on-edge. Being constantly ready to go at a moment’s notice was utterly exhausting, both physically and emotionally. But I have a house to go home to. I’m not scrambling to buy work clothes or a mattress to sleep on. I’m not figuring out what to tell my kids (well mostly, because I have no children, but I digress). I feel guilty that I “haven’t been affected” and to feel all these feelings is selfish.
What I tell my friends who have echoed this sentiment is really good advice; I should really listen to myself. It’s okay for us to mourn our community. It’s okay to be seriously, gravely and profoundly affected by the sheer amount of loss of our friends, our family members, our coworkers, our neighbors. It is loss. And we’re a community and we share in it.
The loss I feel is more than my best friends losing every single one of their registry gifts from their wedding that was just two weeks before the fires. It’s more than the loss of iconic Sonoma County landmarks that were symbols of our part of this earth. The feeling is a hard, smooth stone of loss that fits tightly in my chest. Somehow it gets bigger, harder and colder when we hear people might not want to rebuild in a burned-out neighborhood. The stone also gets bigger when I realize I don’t blame them.
It grows heavier still with trying to understand the housing shortage was problematic before we lost 3,000 homes in a week’s time. It’s now a crisis, following a crisis. Sonoma County is not a cheap place to live – it’s a destination, after all. Many people will likely cut their losses and move somewhere their money will go a little further. This will change the face of our community.
The second reason I cannot find words is I don’t feel I have anything to add that hasn’t already been said. I’ve read beautiful notes and blogs of people in this community who love it as much as I do. Frankly, they’ve said it better than I can ever hope to.
But here I am, with a blog dedicated to my beloved community, my home and the place that has my whole heart. So, I’ll write. And I’ll keep writing and tell all four of you reading this why Sonoma County was, is and will be again, the best damn place in the world.
P.S. To purchase the print above, check out Folding Bone Press.