I cried in yoga this morning. I was that girl. The teacher read a piece from Pema Chodron about being uncomfortable in the “in between.” Sitting cross legged in a small room, surrounded by the scorched mountain sides, I finally exhaled. And cried. My tears were hot like my anger. The quote from Pema was about allowing the feeling of being out of control to soften oneself and fight against your instinct to be rigid and under the illusion of control.
On December 4th, I was reminded once again how I am not in control. The power was out and I was careful to not wake the baby as I walked out the front door to see if the neighbor’s power was out as well. Smoke invaded my lungs and I coughed hard. An orange glow loomed above me and I knew in that moment, we were not safe. What followed was 47 days of moving three adults, two dogs, and a baby from place to place. Hours and hours of phone calls and fighting with my insurance adjuster and trying to maintain a sense of normalcy for my baby and ultimately for myself. But it wasn’t until this morning that I finally felt the shaking inside me subside a little. I am home. We are safe. Ojai is strong.
Ojai is now living in the “in between.” The initial survival mode has now turned to a desire for healing. But we are still a long way off to getting back to normal. The battle scars on the mountains are a 360 degree reminder of the natural disaster that devastated our town. But as I look down from the mountains and onto the faces of the people I pass on the trail, I see humans beings who want to connect and say, “Are you okay? How long were you away? Is your house still standing?” Instead, they offer a vibrant smile and we cross paths knowing… KNOWING, we are the same.
Right now, it’s difficult to recall all the great milestones that occurred in 2017. I know that they happened. I have utopian images on my iPhone to prove it! My son was born, I directed my first finale, and we had the most incredible Thanksgiving holiday. Unfortunately, I can’t see or feel those those memories right now. The image of the entire mountainside on fire as we drove through it on the way to the 101 and my son is his car seat in the back, is all I can see. This is the in between. No longer in danger, not yet back to normal. And I have to find a way to soften and let go.
One little story before I go…
There’s a donkey in upper Ojai that has lived on the same property for several years, although the owners have changed several times. His name is Burrito and he’s magical. The entire property burned to the ground except for six feet surrounding the donkey where he stood. The house is gone, along with all the other structures but Burrito is still there. And he seems pretty chill to me.