April 22, 2013

Books and a blaze

I hardly know what to call this post or what to say.  It's after 4 a.m. and I'm in our neighbours' basement.  I can't sleep.  I am trying to type quietly on this wonderfully clicky keyboard to keep from waking my husband.

This morning I was worried about what I had planned to say to the Books and Brunch Breakfast audience at the Sheraton.

 Book & Breakfast: a wonderful literary tradition in Montreal.

The event turned out to be lots of fun, and I was so relieved to be slotted first so that I could actually enjoy what all the other writers had to say.

 Signing books afterwards.

But this was what happened later...

 A fire in our building. We were in the upper floor.

This is a photo I found on Twitter.  We are lucky to have escaped unharmed, and I pray that is the case for everyone in the building as well as the firefighters who worked to put it out.  We left with only the clothes on our back - no phones or car keys, and in my case no ID or wallet.  It is terrible to contemplate the possibility of losing everything we had, but compared to what we might have lost, it is nothing at all.  We are fortunate, too, that we have people who can take us in, and an empty apartment we're moving into in a few weeks.  It might stay unfurnished for longer than planned.

Thank you to those of you who have sent supportive messages on FB, Twitter, and elsewhere.  

There is the urge to grieve and be thankful at the same time.  I'm not sure what else to say right now.  We may know more tomorrow if anything is salvageable, though more likely it may take a few days before anyone is allowed in.

(I keep thinking of the books... how between us we had at least 16 overstuffed bookcases, and if the flames made it in, they'd go up in a flash.  And if they didn't burn, they'd be soaked through by the firehoses.) 


Steph said...

Oh, Saleema. When I read your FB post, I was tearing. Now I'm outright crying. I'm so, so, sorry. I'm so attached to my surroundings, so entrenched in my home, so blended with the things I own, particularly my books. Imagining all the unique things you might have, the joy with which you made your home, and especially all the wonderful books makes me empathize enough that it hurts. I'm devastated for you.

At the same time, these things come to mind: that yes, so very glad you're unharmed, that you have a place, that soon you'll be in an apartment. As long as it may take, you will get to build up HOME again, and your library, and you may find that process more life altering and even possibly enjoyable, than you expected. Though I feel a little weird saying it now, and it's not meant to be cavalier, events like this, after a long while, can become story fodder, and you might find that process cathartic and enriching in some way. I hope so.

I feel especially grateful right now, and admittedly clingy, about my home. And I admire the strength in your voice in this post.

I'm so relieved you're safe.

Gina Roitman said...

Saleema, I am so sorry for the loss of your things but what you learned from reading all those books, the memories that were frozen into all those photographs, even how gorgeous you looked in that dress, you still have it all. Your blessings outweigh your losses.

Rebecca Rosenblum said...

So glad you and your family are ok and have a safe place to be. I'm sure you know how many people in your internet world would help you reconstitute your library if it truly is gone, or provide any other help we could. Just stay safe and keep us posted!

Carrie Snyder said...

Oh no!!!! I'm so sorry to hear this. It must be so disorienting. I hope you are being taken care of -- comforting food, somewhere to shelter, warm embraces. xo

gillian sze said...

I'm so sorry to hear this! I'm glad you guys are safe.

Hope life gets back to normal soon.

sean said...

What terrible news. My heart goes out to you.

saleema said...

Thanks, all, for your comments and support -- they mean a lot and have been a kind boost over the past 48 hours.

@Steph...I'm glad I'm not the only one so attached to my home! Sometimes I feel bad about being too materialistic re: books, possessions, etc. Re: fodder, well...more to say on that later.

@Gina... you're right. I'm absolutely focused on the blessings.

Isaac Olson said...

I'm sorry about what happened to you. I am trying to reach your for an interview in the Free Press. Did you get my email?