Family, close friends, and colleagues heard about my house fire very quickly. Now that I’m writing a blog about my house fire and how it is affecting my life, I want readers. It’s still a bit scary to put my thoughts and feelings out there for everyone to read. What if no one reads it? Would anyone really care? Nevertheless, I put my insecurities aside and e-mailed all my friends and family about my new venture into blogdom. I also let my facebook friends know that I’d be posting it there. But we all have acquaintances we see just once in a while, maybe only once a year at an annual event, so what should I do about them? Then I bumped into a former colleague at the grocery store and we got all caught up for half an hour among the fruits and vegetables. I had hesitated to notify those acquaintances not in my everyday life, feeling it somewhat risky to expose my emotional well-being. What if no one really gave a damn? But after the sympathetic reactions of a few like my former colleague, I decided to let everyone know about the fire and my blog, not expecting too much in the way of responses. I was pleasantly surprised.
Leila, my former colleague, had found out about the fire before I ran into her at the store. Her daughter lives nearby and had seen the fire trucks and ambulance heading down my street that night. She even knew that a young man had been taken to ER. How does news travel so fast? When she told her mother about it, Leila wondered if it was my house that had burned and my son taken to the hospital. We no longer had each other’s phone numbers, so a few days later, she went to my house and knocked on the door, but of course, I was gone, already stationed at the extended hotel. She was glad to hear that Jacob was ok; we have sons the same age, so it really hit home. It was good to connect again, and though I don’t really need anything tangible, it was nice to hear her offers of help.
I received many responses from people I don’t see or hear from too often – former students in Texas and California, colleagues from my teaching days, and German friends like Fiona, who is too busy raising four young children to check e-mails or facebook very often. We all have busy lives and many of us live far away from each other. Several leaders in the Jewish community responded immediately, letting me know their shock about the fire and their willingness to help in any way. I was surprised by this as I’ve mostly withdrawn from the community the last two years, participating very little and volunteering not at all. Their responses reminded me that regardless of the level of my involvement, I still belong to this Jewish community.
One person I almost did not notify was a friend, who, I had thought, was no longer interested in our friendship. She had not communicated with me in many months despite my asking her to do so. I had mentioned, gently, that I was tired of always taking the initiative in our friendship. I never heard back from her and eventually assumed that she was offended, no longer interested in remaining friends. Still, I had not deleted her address in my contact list, so I checked her name in my mass mailing. I heard from her within 24 hours. She was shocked and sickened by the news, sorry she hadn’t changed her ways and contacted me long ago, and would I please allow her to take me to dinner soon. Another blessing at a difficult time. My friend had returned. Some people I didn’t hear from, and that’s ok. Others responded, offered help, or even subscribed to my blog. Would it really make a big difference in our relationship if they didn’t know about the fire? Probably not, but it has made a significant difference in my life, so I took the risk and sent out my news. I’m glad I did.