While driving back from Houston, I came along the section of Rt 71 where the wild fires had taken what would burn or melt in wind-driven frenzy. There was much to fuel this fire due to the drought. I took photos of remains of homes, cooked pine tree. I saw how wild fires can leave one home untouched or a tire swing still hanging from a huge pine bough, and ash. This fire had our homes over 30 miles away smelling of smoke.
But my interior, my private conversation as I pulled off the highway was that this looks like how I felt after all my treatment was done. As I wandered around, I didn’t wonder how one rebuilds a life after such devastation because I did it. My husband and I are still working at it. The charred trees and melted tin roofs. The random beer bottle resting in white ash. . . I walked through a metaphor of my self two year ago.
But then, I saw color: sky, a red house saved by serendipity, the whistle of cars on the highway. And like the street art painted, and re-painted on Castle Hill in Austin, the quality of one’s life is not in what’s gone but what is. In my path back to my car I saw with my mind’s eye, the perseverance of those street artists. Of my own nights of painting and pasting, mixing media with a vibrancy I don’t believe my words ever reach.
Two and half years go by no matter what happens. Fire, like humans, needs oxygen to survive. Some need a god to blame or curse. Some need a god to lean into after a time of trials. Me I needed gauche and cheap brushes. I needed to paint colors back into my being. I needed to just be, like the street art.