the second fire

what is it that i am supposed to be learning from fire? seems as if one fire in a lifetime would be enough to teach whatever lesson a fire is supposed to teach. but a second fire, more than 5x bigger and more devastating, within 5 years of the first?…. where is the closest cave i can crawl into and hide??

the first fire was really just smoldering wood in a wall without oxygen and lots of scary smoke. the crumbling old drywall being pumped with heat from the 3 high stack of 500 degree pizza ovens, slammed against an old wall with dry sappy heart pine studs. not a real fire, just a smoldering wall.

the fire damage was minimal but the firefighter destruction in the hunt for the source… the smoke and the thousands of gallons of water that followed…. took out the entire kitchen on a random tuesday night.

the second fire caught who the hell knows how? on a random monday night when the place was closed and locked and alarmed and shuddered. a different building but a fire starting only 30′ from the first, and 4 1/2 years later. this fire went unchecked and went to fully involved in 15 minutes. the 6 trees slammed up on the back wall were ablaze. the 2 gigantic rainwater collection tanks melted into a water-like pool of plastic. the entire building turned to ash, leaving only the heartiest and thickest of the metals, but so many dumpsters and snow shovels full of ash and memories.

10 years of artists and musicians and customers and kids… over 10 years of traditions and collections. the sign says “junk museum” and “5 and dime.” under that roof was a party 5 nights a week for a decade. more birthday parties and field trips, anniversaries and family gatherings than can be successfully counted.

no, the second fire spared the kitchen and took the stage. left the diners and stole the spark. did not touch the dining room but burned up the vibe.

the second fire made people scared to come. are they afraid now? are the depressed? do they think we are still closed? had the gift shop and lounge finally become the main attraction with a pizza joint attached on the side? because that is what i have always wanted and dreamed of and worked for. to make the gift shop/ junk museum lounge bar and live music venue a roadside attraction and destination of its own. it’s not a pizza joint with a gift shop next door but the other way around. the main attraction is this freak show place. the dessert is the dinner next door.

so i finally remembered tonight that my entire story has been based on leaving something i imagine can never be outdone and outdoing it a few times over somehow and against the odds. i lived in a shack i built on an tangerine grove in citra. a wall of windows, a treehouse above… a ring of bricks and fire pit out front…. a decorated a warehouse in tallahassee that was once a punk club called planet 10. i made rooms and a labyrinth of multi layered junk that could have inspired tom waits and george lucas to collaborate. lanterns and stacks of rusty debris, quilts and fabrics, wicker and an old dentist chair…. lightnin salvage was another one of those places. a created space with a countdown timer attached. a visual feast with a hidden bomb. the train track overhead, the 10 years of pinecone awards, the 14 years of collected reading glasses left behind on a table in a pizza joint. a wall of iphones, a chandelier of keys, and rows and rows and rows of old hose and bike tires as the insulation from the beating summer heat. and now i am left to prove i can do something better. i am left to show i still know what customers want. i have the “blank canvas” everyone is telling me i have but they are all watching to see how good i can paint.

i am pissed. i am so depressed i am pissed. i am depressed that insurance will be a bitch my whole life. i will continue to pay through the nose for insurance and i will continue to be a very safe person and careful and deliberate. i will give more to insurance than i will make myself. if i have another fire i will not rebuild. i will die then. i will curl up, move away, hide, run and die. i cannot keep dealing with fire. i have a right to relax for a minute. i get to rest soon, right? i get to stop dealing with all this stress and anxiety and depression right?

i’ve always believed and said that “everything happens for a reason.” silly dime store philosophy. well, this second fire? it has me really wondering. did i do something wrong? is there a lesson here i am oblivious to? why the fuck do i have to deal with this shit when everything was going so good a month ago? how can i lose another huge chunk of my life and business to fire? how can i rebuild AGAIN? a man only has so much to give the world.

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