Life After the Fire

by Janai Arnold
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Photo Source: Peter J Hill on Flickr

Hearing about all the horrible fires in California is reminding me of what it felt like when the house I grew up in burned down.

I was a sophomore in high school when the fire happened.  My family was forced to move out, with little money.

As a teenager, I needed personal space. I needed time to listen to music in peace. Really, I just needed to be alone — and that wasn’t easy. We were stuck in one hotel room with two beds shared among four people and a dog. I spent a lot of time at friends’ houses or wandering around hotels. After a while, my family started to separate. My mom and I moved into a nice house and my grandma moved in with her sister.

While my friends thought growing up is reaching a certain age, or hitting puberty, for me, the fire is what ended my childhood. I learned that things can be taken away from me without warning. So I value time with my family even more than before. Because the fire could have taken any one of us. Still, it changed my family forever, and I do grieve what we have lost.

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