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Fire: This story has no end, yet....

Three weeks from today I will be loading up my 1997 Subaru Outback to leave Rochester, Minnesota and move back to North Carolina.

One week ago today, the house I was supposed to be moving in to was gutted by an electrical fire.

This, as you can imagine, leaves me in a bit of a quandry.

Let's get the good news out of the way so we can get on to the complicated stuff. The good news is I wasn't living in the house when it burned. At the inspection after the blaze had been put out, the fire chief said the fire was inevitable. It would have happened sooner or later, as two crossed wires deep in the walls had been heating up for some time.

When I was about six years old, I went through a stage where I kept all my stuffed animals and favorite books in huge black garbage bags around my room. I did this in case a fire broke out during the night and I had to get my beloved possessions out of the house in a hurry. The fear of fire has been with me a long time.

So, yes, I'm relieved I wasn't living there when it happened. I'm glad my pets weren't in that house, alone and helpless, when the fire broke out. I am grateful for the timing, that the fire burned a week ago and not a month from now.

Other than that fundamental gratitude, this whole situation leaves me utterly at a loss. I have no idea what to make of it. "Shit just happens..." is one possibility, but it's not a satisfying one for me. And it rings false.

See, this house was perfect for my new life. Situated on a 30-acre farm minutes from one of my favorite cities, the enormous screened porch looked out over pasture and woods. I planned to keep my futon out there, so I could sleep on the porch on warm summer nights. The hardwood floors inside were old and rustic. A brick, wood-burning fireplace graced one wall. The two bedrooms upstairs were tucked cozily beneath the eaves, under a tin roof perfect for rainy nights.

And the rent: ridiculously low. I would have been freed from some of the cost-of-living burdens that keep most of us working like dogs to afford them.

Knowing this house would be my home in NC gave me some of the courage I needed to quit my job back in April. And this house practically fell into my lap. A friend of my cousin's owns it, and it became available at exactly the right time. I'm not gonna lie. It felt like a gift from God. Like a collossal, spiritual YES to my questions about whether it was time for me to leave my safe job and finally venture out onto my own.

So now I'm left holding a big ole' bag full of the question "Why?". Why bring this place into my life only to take it away? A part of me wants to believe that something better must be coming into my life in the wake of this loss. A bigger part of me has a hard time believing that anything better than perfect can possibly come along.

Now I'm in the process of packing up my beloved home in Rochester to move to... nowhere. I have no forwarding address yet.

Even as I write this, a thin trickle of fear mixed with excitement licks up around the base of my spine, like fire itself. If I can quiet the fear for even a moment, I hear a small voice inside of me whisper: Well this is certainly interesting, I wonder how its going to turn out? And the question, the very thought of unwritten endings, floods me with hope.

Other times in my life when I felt I'd found perfection, I inevitably got cream-pied by the gods, smashed in the face and knocked over by irony. The first time I stayed down for a long, long time. After that, the getting up and moving on grew easier.

So what's a wise woman to do? Talking to my mom the other day, she told me, "Don't forget to ask for help." So to you, help. In whatever way you know how, please have a chat with the universe on my behalf.

What else? For me, fighting fire with fire seems right. I'm a double fire sign, Aries and Leo. And in times like this, I feel my inner warrior gearing up for a good battle. I share with you the last stanza of my favorite Adrienne Rich poem, Song:

If I'm lonely

it's with the rowboat ice-fast on the shore

in the last red light of the year that knows what it is,

that knows it's neither ice nor mud nor winter light

but wood, with a gift for burning.

As I mentioned in the title, this story does not yet have an ending. But in the meantime, let's all burn bright, my friends.