Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Crackling Fire on a Cold Night

I was upstairs getting ready to tuck Katie into bed when Will called from our basement family room, "Hey, guys, come check out this fire."

Katie and I looked at each other like what?

Will built us this fire in our fireplace.

I'd heard Will moving stuff around downstairs, but I figured he was cleaning up in preparation for my up-coming birthday party.  Will's the kind of person who starts cleaning the house the moment you tell him someone is coming over.  Even if they're not coming over for two weeks.  I, the yin to Will's yang, approach preparing for a party differently.  I put it off til the very last moment.  Generally this means I rush around the house, throwing things into closets and using my socks to sweep the pet hair off the floor, brewing a pot of coffee to mask the foul odor I can't quite trace back to its origin, and closing the doors to the rooms that are too far gone to even attempt to tidy up before the guests arrive.  But sometimes my procrastination pays off.  Occasionally the guests will call and cancel and then I get to gloat to Will that see, it's a waste of effort to plan ahead.  Why clean the house if you are not absolutely certain guests are stopping by?

As Katie and I descended the stairs, the smell hit us.

"Mmm.  It smells like a fire!" Katie announced.

Halfway down the stairs, I could see Will had not been cleaning up in preparation for my up-coming birthday party.  He had been moving stuff out of the way so he could get to the fireplace and build his family a nice warm fire on a cold night.

I pulled out Katie's Winnie the Pooh sleeping bag, a hand-me down from Will's cousin's kid, and Will handed Katie a giant floor pillow my sister Glenda, who owns an estate sale business and is always giving us good loot, left with us the last time she visited.  Katie snuggled up in front of the fire.  Will and I sat in comfy chairs around it.  We talked about what it was like in the olden days when people had to use fire to see in the darkness.  But mostly we were quiet, all three of us mesmerized by the crackling, chaotic flames neatly contained inside our fireplace.

It's a difficult sound to capture on my old digital camera, but I still felt compelled to do it.  I document my life obsessively.  The good stuff, at least.  As a person with lifelong, chronic depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, I think the reason I like to write down my thoughts and take pictures and videos of my life so much is because I want to focus on the good times.  There is an undercurrent of fear streaming inside me that the beauty and love and warmth and fun will end and I'll be back in bed with the covers over my face, unable to face the ugliness and hate and cold and sadness.  If I record the good times, it elevates them to a more important role.  When I write stories, take pictures, and shoot videos of my life, I'm turning those moments into art.  And art lasts longer than a lifetime.

I saw this meme the other day and I could totally relate:

Within twenty minutes of lying in front of the fire, Katie, half-asleep, mumbled for her daddy to carry her to bed.  The guy lifts fifty pound bags of nuts at work all day, so he thinks nothing of lifting our seven-year-old nut up and carrying her to bed.  I sat in my chair, the heat from the fire warming my face and my toes, and I watched as my lovely man ascended the stairs with our sweet child draped across his shoulders.  I would have taken a picture of them, but my camera was across the room and the moment would be gone before I'd have a chance to snap it.  So I sat there and watched them and listened to the fire serenade us with its crack crack crack -- pop!