*NOTICE* strong language at the end of this post where I lose my darn mind.
I haven’t posted on my blog since Valentine’s Day.
I miss blogging, and I think about it all day, every day. But with everything that has gone on, I haven’t gotten farther than creating a few drafts. I have my son’s one-year update almost finished, even though he turned one a couple of months ago. With every passing day, I feel like an explanatory post is getting bigger and more daunting. So I’m going to just lay it all out there right now, without thoughtful crafting and maybe even without a picture. We’ll see how I feel at the end of this.
Between Valentine’s Day and now, the following has happened:
I moved back to Fort McMurray
When we moved to Calgary, we put our Fort McMurray condo on the market and expected it to take a few months to sell. Seven months later, we’d had one offer for approximately $110k below asking. The economy absolutely decimated the real estate market at a time when we were trying to do what we thought was best for our family. So in March, faced with the prospect of losing my maternity leave income and having to pay for a mortgage in one city and rent in another, we decided it would once again be in our best interest as a family to move. I moved back to Fort McMurray with Lil’ Ziggy first, as my husband still had to finish working in Calgary.
I put my son in daycare and I started working full time
We were lucky to find a wonderful daycare quickly, as most facilities in Fort McMurray had long wait lists. I was conflicted about putting my son in daycare and going back to work full time. I wanted to be like the bloggers I had come to know, the ones who are able to bring in a side income while taking good care of their homes and families. I felt like a bit of a failure, like I realized I just wouldn’t be able to do it. It’s an emotional reaction, not necessarily a rational one, to coming to terms with things not going how you’d imagine them to go.
My husband joined us in Fort McMurray
I was so thankful when Chris joined us in Fort McMurray. I had pretty much been living as a single mom for about a month, with the exception of Easter weekend, when he flew up to be with us. He was able to put most of our stuff away, and our condo once again started to resemble the home it used to be. Not three weeks later, all hell broke loose.
We were evacuated from Fort McMurray
Forest fires are pretty much a dime a dozen in our region. There are periods every summer where we hear of a fire somewhere close to town, sometimes farther out, bringing in smoky conditions. This year was different. A dry winter gave way to a dry spring, and the forest surrounding Fort McMurray was parched. It started to the south of town, “in the bush”, and the direct cause is still unknown. But we do know that fires this time of year are often caused by lightning or human actions.
I could see the smoke from my window, and a couple of communities on the south end of town were evacuated as a precaution. Even then, the fire was not seen as a significant threat to the city. That’s not to say that the firefighters were shrugging their shoulders and saying “meh”, but we had seen fires close to town many times before and evacuating an entire town of 90,000 people is a massive endeavour, especially if there wasn’t yet a direct threat. They were continuing to fight the fire, keeping an eye on things, with the knowledge that if the situation changed, they’d know what to do.
Well, the situation changed. The wind changed direction, picked up, and threw the fire right at Fort McMurray faster than anyone could have predicted. By the time I called Chris to pick Ziggy up from daycare, a few neighbourhoods were already on mandatory evacuation, and the fire was right at their perimetre. I saw the flames as I rode the bus back home.
We were lucky in that we had a few hours to pack our SUV with as many “necessities” as we could before we finally got the call that it was a city-wide mandatory evacuation. It took us about 45 minutes just to get out of our neighbourhood down to the highway, a trip that normally takes about three. And it took us four hours to drive 40 kilometres north to one of the oil sands work camps, where we stayed for the night. The next morning, without breakfast and with only half a tank of gas, we headed south past town, seeing for the first time Fort McMurray, forever changed by fire.
We ran out of gas about 50 km away from a gas station, but we were given a full jerry can by a kind couple who refused our offer to pay. We were also given juice, canned peaches and goldfish crackers, the first things Chris and I had eaten in over 24 hours. That was from a woman who had just lost her own house and everything in it. I am still blown away by their kindness and generosity in the face of terrible loss.
We finally arrived in Edmonton and were put up by a friend. We are so very grateful to him for taking care of us, giving us shelter, food, and just helping us through those difficult first days. At that point, we still didn’t really know how long we’d be there. When it became clear that it would be at least a few weeks before we could return home, we decided to fly to Ontario, where we’re originally from, and stay with family for the duration of the evacuation.
That’s where we are now, and while no one can say for sure, I’d hazard a guess and say we are at least a few more weeks away from being able to go back home. We are incredibly lucky that our condo building is still standing, but we really have no idea what we will be going back to. I can only assume that there will be smoke damage to many of our belongings, and I’m thinking I’ll have to toss our refrigerator and chest freezer without even bothering to open them up. But I can’t say for sure.
How I’m feeling about it all
*Public!Monica* feels so thankful, so lucky, so blessed, that my condo is still there, that we haven’t lost what others have lost. Private!Monica feels that way too, but with a few added emotions.
Private!Monica is so sick and tired of feeling so bloody out of control. Private!Monica is sick of moving, of not knowing where she’s going to be next week, of not knowing what’s coming. Private!Monica is not on vacation, and is tired of feeling like she has to go everywhere and see everyone because she happens to be in Ontario and and that’s just what you do when you “come home”. I’m not here for a damn visit. I have been evacuated from my home, and it would be nice to have some normalcy. Ever.
Moving away from Fort McMurray. Moving back to Fort McMurray. Fleeing an on-fire Fort McMurray. Not knowing when I can go back to Fort McMurray. Not actually being *allowed* to express my frustration because everyone is in the same boat and everyone “gets it”. Not being *allowed* to even WANT to just be alone for a little while. Not being *allowed* to even WANT to make some decisions without having to think of how everyone else will be impacted. Because I am not in a position of power here. I never have been. I’ve only ever just been along for the ride. And if I try to change that, well then I’m an ungrateful bitch. I’m supposed to practice *self-care* but let’s be honest, the second I try to take care of myself, everything falls to shit and it’s all my fault for not paying attention.
That may not be the ending I was originally intending, but that’s why I haven’t blogged in so long. I’m just so, so tired but I can’t stop. I can’t ever just stop.