Today is the 5-year anniversary of my apartment building fire. Tonight is also the awards ceremony for the Thespis Theater Festival in which my play, Sing After Storms, is nominated for best play. A portion of that play is based on my fire experience. The synchronicity is not lost on me.
I used to regard that fire, in which I lost almost all of my belongings and barely got out of the building in time, as the worst day of my life. Now I know it was one of the best because it taught me that no matter what happens, I’ll always be okay. That fire literally burned the fear of living right out of me. In the same way that fire chemically transforms everything it touches forever, it changed me forever, too. It showed me how strong I am, and that knowledge serves me well every day. The recovery from it was painful and difficult, but when I consider how much I love my life now compared to my life then, I know it was worth the struggle to get well.
September 5th now feels like a second birthday to me. In my home, I keep a photograph of my old apartment after the fire. That’s where I began again, completely from scratch, to build a life worth living. It’s a self-portrait in a way, a daily reminder that I am fortunate to be here at all. That we all are. I’m glad I hung in there, even in the darkest, most frightening, lonely hours, because on the other side of that fear I found everything I ever wanted. I found me, and that’s something not even a fire can take away.