Sometime around 5:30 this morning I went to take the garbage bag from under the sink out to the bin. It was still dark, and as I lifted the lid I lifted my face away from the stink and scanned the sky.
About two blocks away I could see an enormous billowing cloud of smoke, full of sparks and backlit by orange flames and street lamps. "Oh, crap," I said. Because, you know, I'm all eloquent and shit like that.
I grabbed my coffee cup (when your dad is a retired firefighter, fires are spectacles, not events), stuck my flip flops on my feet and moseyed up the street. I don't really know the people who lived in the house, but their outbuildings were ablaze and they were frantically spraying water on their vehicles and their roof to keep their house safe. Its an old farmhouse, and probably would have been in as bad shape as their garage and barn except right about then the first firetrucks arrived.
By the time I left for work, the fire was pretty well out. I stopped and got out of the car to see if they needed anything. They had an old skinny horse tied up to a tree, and I inquired if they needed a place to put him. The two young guys that were there said the man who owned the horse was at work, and they didn't really know. I checked him over - he was a little shocky, but more concerning he was clearly underweight and his feet looked like they hadn't seen a rasp in about 10 years. He was very kind and patient and let me look in his mouth and pick up his feet without protest. I suggested they get him some water and then I went back home and threw a bale of hay in the truck to give them. He was eating and drinking water when I left, so I was encouraged. By now I'm late for work, but its not every day you wake up to a fire in the neighborhood.
Yesterday SG left for Nebraska. Oh, I know we thought he'd not have to go back on the road, but at some point the not-finding of the local work and the pile of bills (not to mention getting hay put in for an embarassing number of horses) dictated otherwise. He'll be back mid-November. If there was anyone as conflicted as this man about leaving for a job I've yet to meet them. Granted, it was a short notice scramble as he got the call about this job on Wednesday for a Monday start. The adrenaline rush gets you booked and packed before you've had a chance to really think about whether you really want to go to Nebraska of all places in October and November.
Still, it was three or four in the afternoon on Saturday, his flight was leaving at 10 am Sunday and he was still waffling on whether he was staying or going. I finally threw my hands up in despair and headed out to the barn to escape the anxious pacing and the muttering.
It shouldn't be THAT hard a decision to go to work or not, especially in a down economy. You just don't question the gift of paying work - even if it DOES require packing your long underwear. But then you think back to the last couple of outages which all went much shorter than they were supposed to, which meant the private contractors didn't make nearly as much bank as they were counting on, and you count weeks and paychecks and you think that maybe it won't pan out - but in the end its still a job, and so the decision gets made.
And so we kiss goodbye before his folks come to take him on the two hour drive to the airport and then later on that afternoon the kids' dad comes to get them and suddenly I'm alone, trying to decide if I'm happy about it or not. On the one hand, there's all of the ALL that is our crazy little farm and that's challenging when there's two adults to handle it. And there's the lonely part of things, especially on the nights when the only warm bodies you can find to cuddle with are furry and don't have opposable thumbs with which to rub your back. But then you think about how nice it is to have a bathroom to yourself and how much less laundry there'll be, and dishes too, and then you wake up to see your neighbor's whole life going up in flames.
And then you read a post on Facebook from a friend you've known for years who just lost her husband. And you realize pretty quickly how good you have it.
My man might not be home right now, but I still get to talk to him and hold him again in a few weeks' time. My house might be a little quiet and empty, but it is standing. My husband might not get as much work out of this as he wants, but it is still work.
This is how you bounce back.