The wildfire storm that is currently devastating our county and neighboring counties is affecting all residents in varying ways. I know people who have lost their homes and are grateful to be with family and friends. Some are dealing with it by relentlessly helping others. I have, blessedly, not been directly impacted. My home and animals are safe. I haven’t even lost power. Briefly, I was hit with “Survivor Syndrome” (“why everyone else and not me?”) but decided instead to be grateful for my incredible good luck and my ability to, hopefully, help those not as fortunate.
My biggest impact has been that the home I bought after my divorce, my big move toward independence, was leveled during the firestorm. No, I don’t live there any more. Someone else’s live was disrupted by this event, and my heart goes out to them and to everyone else in the same situation. But still, that home was a big deal to me, and the loss still hurts.
I got divorced in 1987, and the big bright spot was that I got to buy my home, my way. I shopped around a lot for older homes, but it was a seller’s market that year, and the cute little “charmers” I found were quickly snapped up by higher bidders. Reluctantly, I dropped in to view the model homes at a new development, “Coffey Park”, and was surprised to find myself won over by the compact and workable floor plan of the smallest model, the “Annadel”, 1250 square feet of livability. (Notably, I had forgotten the name of the model until I just now found the brochure). With HSA financing, I was able to afford it ($106,000, a huge stretch!). In July of 1987, I moved in. I was on the far north end of the development, only about 5 or 6 houses on Dennis Lane, our backs to the rest of the subdivision. I think I was the first on the street to move in, followed quickly by the families on either side of my house. Everyone moved in at the same time, so there were no “newcomers” and it was like settling a new frontier. We all got to know and like each other. Bev, also recently divorced, moved in with her daughter, and we did some traveling. We saw the elephant seals at Año Nuevo, Hearst Castle and Italy together.
After 6 years or so, my feet got itchy. I was doing a lot of hiking at Annadel State Park and had also bought a little sailboat that I sailed at Spring Lake, which adjoins Annadel. I liked the east side of town by those parks, and finally decided to make the move to be closer to the recreation sites. I moved me and my sailboat (and by then, my new family members, kitty Smudge and Cocker Spaniels Byron, Sofie and Bart), to a 1975 ranch house on Fernglen Drive, just off Parktrail Drive.
Eventually, I sold that house, too, and moved to country property where I could keep horses, and that’s where I am now. I often thought that, had I stayed on Dennis Lane, I would have paid off that house and been living carefree. Until a couple days ago, when the firestorm hit, and it seems that, instead, I would have had to evacuate quickly in the middle of the night and lost everything. That’s what happened to Bev and so many others. Life is a series of chances. Who would think that a subdivision in town would be more at risk than country property?
The fires are still raging. Ironically, homes from Parktrail south are under evacuation as Annadel State Park (now Trione-Annadel State Park) is at risk. The home I bought on Fernglen is just north of the evacuation zone (maybe 500 feet north).
Yes, I was incredibly lucky. No, I don’t own that house any more. But that house was the first home I owned on my own, my claim to independence. I decorated it, I had Thanksgiving dinners there. My Cocker Spaniel, Sofie, had puppies there. I had a little Tupperware-bagging business there in my garage to bring in a little spare cash. So, while I can’t compare it to the loss suffered by those who lost the homes they were currently living in, there is still a little part of my history that has been dashed.
Here are some of my memories, between 1987 and 1993