catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 11, Num 10 :: 2012.05.11 — 2012.05.24



“We have arranged for you to stay in a fully furnished apartment until we can get you back in your house.” These words were a comfort to me as we drove our kids to the place where we would stay the next few months. We had just left our burned out home, where white squares in black soot now marked the spots where pictures had once hung on the walls.  Our “fully furnished” house was nothing but a water-logged, soot-filled, broken-apart house. It was a strange feeling to own nothing but the clothes on your back.

I was relieved to have dishes, towels and blankets at the apartment, but they weren’t mine. The ones I had were given to me as wedding presents, holiday gifts or bought at the store because I loved them.  Mine had memories attached, and they were gone.  Whenever I picked up the quilt in the family room and folded it up, it was special because my great grandmother made it for me. The machine-sewed “quilt” on the living room couch now had no meaning.  Never before had furniture, blankets or dishes had such significance to me and at the same time mattered so little.  On the one hand, I did not want to lose the representation of the person or memory attached to that object, but on the other hand, I still had my husband and children; and that mattered more.  It was a strange paradox. I didn’t care that I was sitting on an apartment couch that wasn’t mine, because snuggling in with me on that couch were my children, happy to feel secure with their parents.

The idea of “simplifying” became real that summer as we purchased only those items we needed.  We didn’t replace everything that was lost in the fire, because we realized some things were just unnecessary.  It was very freeing.  Even though the previous objects of my house, so full of meaning, were gone, the memories attached to them lasted. Simplicity and happy memories: that was all we had, and that was all we needed.

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