The insurance people have sent me a report on rebuilding my house with the general contractor. There are pages and pages, 61 pages, in fact, of details – baseboards, drywall, light fixtures, doorknobs, sealers, primers, and much, much more – all broken down to precise measurements and cost. No wonder it took over five weeks to prepare. The cost is estimated at $105,000 though it can be adjusted upwards if the contractors find more problems. It’s mind-boggling to look through it, so I just skip to the summaries at the end. Later in the week, I meet with my general contractor who explains how the process works. By the time he leaves, I’m feeling better about it, but there are a ton of details that only I can decide on, so I know how I’ll be spending most of my summer.
In the meantime, I need some of my stuff. I want my bike, my files, my DVDs, and CDs. I’m about to go on another business trip, unfortunately, and I’d really like my rolling computer bag because the last trip carrying a computer bag really killed my neck and shoulders. My contractor Mark brings everything to my house Friday afternoon, and the kids and I dig through the boxes. Rats. The box of papers are from my daughter’s room, not the files from my study. I thought they labeled where everything came from when they emptied my house. I add another phone call to my ‘to-do’ list for next week. My rolling computer bag has that haunting smoky smell, but I tolerate it since I don’t want to run out and purchase a new one. For some odd reason, about 10 of my DVDs are still missing even though they were in the exact same place as all the other ones. A packer must have tossed them into some random box.
I want some of my clothing back, too. When the clothing restoration people first met with me at my burned house, they took two weeks’ worth of clothing that I selected for a quick turnaround. There are three categories, the young woman explains. The two-week turnaround, the month-long one, and the rest go into storage. I carefully point out my winter clothing stored in the garage, the ‘memory’ box of children’s clothes under the stairs, and the baskets of smaller-sized clothing in the closet that I’m determined to fit back into – she nods with understanding; many women have two entire sets of clothing. They can all go into storage I say. The rest of the stuff, I want back in a month. Great, glad you’re so organized, we can do that.
When I call five weeks later begging for more clothes, they say they’ll check on what’s finished with the people working on it. I thought they were the ones working on it, but everyone seems to contract and sub-contract out these days. Finally, a woman shows up with a lot of clothing. Except they’re not organized at all. She brings in winter clothes mixed with the smaller-sized clothes mixed with children’s clothes. I get both shoes and baby booties. My son gets a box of shirts and a few belts, but my daughter gets nothing but dresses she wore in elementary school. Sigh. I send a lot of the clothing back with the woman for storing. There is one silver lining to all this. Every shoe, belt, scarf, and piece of clothing is extremely clean and meticulously ironed. Some have a whiff of that smoky smell, but it goes away after a few days of airing. For the items that had previous spots or marks or stains, they attach a small tag telling me they did their best, but they couldn’t clean it perfectly. That’s ok, I think. They sure look better than they did before the fire. I’ll take’em.