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Because we don’t always get to know when, where or why starting over is about to begin.

October 2019: All Fried Up With Nowhere To Go

My Stuff, my State, and now my Life. On Fire.

Sacramento Firefighters wrapping up a Five-Alarm Fire, October 18, 2018. Photographer: Audrey Wells wearing pajamas and bedroom slippers.

I was at least three city blocks from my destination and I could see the billowy plumes of smoke rising ominously in the distance.

Three years of hauling way too many loads of antiquated relics to and from my stores — to and from The Warehouse and then back again, unless I was delivering, of course, which meant I had ‘Made a Sale!’ — had sadly given me the ability to drive this route blindfolded. Which also meant there was no need for me to guess which building might be on fire.

Turning sharply off the main drag and into the freight yard — tires squealing, hell, barely braking — only to drive straight over god-knows-how-many fire-hoses stretched out long and flat like land snakes across the asphalt was very poor form and something I would apologize emphatically for. Later.

Impressively, the firefighters didn’t flee as I barreled by them, but instead waved their black fireproof-gloved hands and bulky bunker gear — helmets accenting even their Lego-Fireman silhouettes — screaming STOP! [You Crazy Bitch.] But I also knew they didn’t know that it was MY building next up in line to burn to the ground, and they probably also didn’t know I really needed to help them save it. NOW.

There wasn’t time for coffee but the adrenalin made up for that.

To think, less than 20 minutes earlier I was in sleepwear, muddling my way through just another #ThrowBackThursday as I generally hashtag my social media posts on duller days.

But this was one of those October mornings when fall taps you right on your bare nose even as you try to hunker down and curl away, ultimately failing as its sharp, raw finger taps its first frosty alert: Winter is Here.

And it was CHILLY. Noticeably! It was the first fall snap, and we’ve all been whining hot-house flowers here in The Sacramento Valley since spring. And on this brisk turn-of-the-weather morn I overslept happily in my cozy one-bedroom apartment while the homeless and less hopeful moved their camps indoors, wherever possible.

It was also the very same morning my iPhone slipped off my nightstand; or maybe I knocked it off accidentally after shoving books, night cream, and a tequila rocks glass out of the way to make room for my nightly, slightly burnt, piece of generously-buttered toast.

In fact, it slipped right off and way under, so it wasn’t until I was killing about one minute tops at my laptop, waiting for that first sip of hope (my morning Peet’s brew, dark and never decaf,) when onscreen pops a message, thanks to technology and the fancy tech miracles of iMessage.

Hey, I think I see your building on fire on the news right now, do you know anything about that?

And because I definitely didn’t know a thing about it but wanted to know more, yet couldn’t figure out why my phone was nowhere to be found and could feel my panic not helping the situation, after ransacking the one-bedroom and entire rest of my flat I ran downstairs (somehow resisting the urge to bang on my neighbor’s doors and yell FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! even though OUR building wasn’t on fire but mine was.)

That’s just how crazy my thinking was right then, hoping my friend and downstairs neighbor (quite familiar with me and my stores and their 50-years of junk-slash-inventory) could help me find my fucking phone, since *Find My iPhone* is impossible for me to find, much less navigate, or wait for *iFinallyFuckingFoundIt* when my head is reeling, my heart is about to fly out of my chest, and my hands won’t stop shaking.

Tara, always-calm-in-a-crisis, not only helped me find my phone, she reminded me to throw something (like a jacket?) over my cotton pajamas (it was so cold out there but the fire would be hot, no?) and neither of us noticed I was still wearing my crocheted moccasins with the thin suede leather soles — which I’d have to ultimately toss out as they were the exact wrong footwear to be wearing when I walked through the aftermath of the Five-Alarm Fire that just happened to change the trajectory of my life that day.

And I hadn’t even had my coffee.

The End.

And The New Beginning all at the same time and all on the same day.

Here stay tethered.

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Ruminations on life, love, and the baffling and beautiful stuff we hoard to help us keep our shit together. And knowing when it’s time to let it go.

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Audrey Wells

Audrey Wells

i’m on a quest. just like y’all. #WEareALLinTHIS2gether ❤https://audreywells.com/

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