I'm not sure if you've ever come home to a flooded house, but it is not the most delightful experience.
Last Thursday, after celebrating some good news and enjoying a rare day off together (we just puttered around a bookstore and Best Buy) my husband and I came home to an inch of water in the downstairs of our home. Luckily for us we were not the culprits in this mini-deluge -- our next door neighbors had turned off their heat before going home for winter break and a pipe burst.
Opening the door to standing water in my kitchen, I assumed our dishwasher had somehow exploded. Then I walked into our hallway. And then the living room.
Thursday, by the way, happened to be the coldest day of the winter so far. Thinking back on our discovery all that runs through my head is Kurtz muttering "The horror! The horror!"
Action Rosemary did not cry, instead she went into swoop mode and began pulling things out of closets, getting stuff shoved into garbage bags, figuring out what important things might be lost.
Most of our stuff sits on shelves off the floor so we've mostly lucked out. But there are a number of things that are gone.
Shoes. An area rug. Some guest bedding. All of it, largely, replaceable. The most dear thing ruined was a Christmas tree a much younger Sofia made years ago.
Sitting in two white fabric totes under my couch, however, were years worth of National Geographic magazines. In my kitchen are five fabric grocery bags I'd been working on finding a place for after rearranging the shelves in my living room.
Everything in the totes and the grocery bags was destroyed.
It's the books and the magazines that have upset me most, angered me most.
Growing up, reading was an adventure; an escape. A treat was going to the used bookstore and picking up old issues of National Geographic for 25 cents a pop and spending long afternoons pouring over the pages. I read so voraciously as a kid that I never had enough books.
Having those National Geographics under my couch made this apartment, made the transitory life of a graduate student, seem stable. They gave me a sense of comfort that I can't explain.
The books? Well, they're my brain. I have an incredibly terrible time letting go of books. Which is why I have seven bookshelves in my house and still not enough space for all the books I own. (Moving at the end of July is going to be terrible.)
We have renter's insurance. So the last several days, as we wait for the industrial fan and dehumidifier to dry out our house, we've been working on a list of things we lost -- not in the fire, Bastille -- but in our mini-flood.
I have been a grumpus about it.
It feels weird, to be making a list of things we own and attempting to assign monetary value to them. Some insurance person (who has been very nice) is going to look over our list and ultimately decide what had real value. Value worth reimbursing us for.
It's all valuable.
The blankets I've had for years. The pink and neon green sneakers hoofed me all over Germany and Brussels. The books are battered and torn from being dropped in the bath or read in the rain while waiting for the bus to campus. The Christmas tree artwork had somehow managed to survive several Christmases and a very rambunctious Sofia.
Nothing I lost has any real monetary value, at least not in the grand scheme of things. The value they hold is all related to what they helped me do, how they helped me pass the time, how they made me feel.
So, instead of making a list of things lost and their value I am drinking wine and counting my lucky stars that we only had an inch of water in our house.
And maybe plotting my revenge. No one destroys my National Geographics!