“Got any plans this weekend?” The banker asks me. I think there are prompts on the computer screen when there’s a delay to tell the banker they should ask me a question. I’ve come in here three times now to get temporary checks because our regular checks are packed away and I can’t find them.

I’m excited and not thinking this through. I reply, “Yeah! We’re moving into our house this weekend.”

“Oh, did you just buy a house?”

“Ah, no, we’re moving back in. We had a fire and I think we’re finally going to get to move in.” The “move-in” date has slipped and slipped many times in the past couple of months. From a far off “oh maybe at the end of that month” it’s slid around, to a very near “in two days” that has slipped twice this week. We try not to tell the kids when we’re moving back in because we don’t want them to feel the disappointment we keep feeling. They’ll know a few hours before it happens.

That’s why I’m here at the bank. I need a check to pay the water heater installer because the brand new water heater we had installed was “a piece of shit” according to the plumber who came out to figure out what the other contractor could not.

“Oh, I’m so sorry!” She’s giving me the face now I’ve seen many times in the past 8 months. I instantly regret starting this conversation because now I have to wrap it up so I can get my checks and get back to the house. I explain a bit about how the fire happened and how all our stuff (all of it!) has been in boxes all these months.

I wrap it up on a happy note. I mean, it’s a really happy thing to be moving back even though the cause was tragic. I have to keep reminding myself that this was a really fucked up thing that happened and it’s okay to feel bad about it though.

And while the insurance has been great the debt we’ve incurred is substantial. You never realize how much “stuff” you have until you leave it all and pack up a car trunk with the basics. Over the span of 8 months you begin to create a mirror world of your old life in stuff: scissors, a bucket, tape measure, house shoes, extension cords, rain coats, rain boots, dress shoes. I had to buy a new pair of leather shoes because I was wearing Converse the day the fire happened. This kills me because I have GREAT shoes. I regret not grabbing my boots that night. I have dumb regrets like this all the time.

It’s not about stuff (it’s a little about the money :sob:) but it has mainly just been how emotionally draining this has been on all of us. I’m tired at looking for silver-linings in everything. Yes, it’s great we have a new roof and new walls and floors and more electrical plugs scattered around the house, but I’d trade it all in a second to be back here on that Friday to somehow stop the fire from happening so my daughter could have her birthday in the backyard the very next day.

Our kids have been remarkable and I am proud at how good they handled all of this. I just want to get back to normal. So when the teller directs me to a banker so I can order new checks I sit down and we walk through the order. There’s a delay while her computer is working on something.

“Got any plans this weekend?”

“No, none,” I smile, with a face of real relief, “Just hanging out around the house.”