Tragically, it burned to the ground. It has been eight years since I dared go back to the site.
Some scavengers told me that they might be able to salvage some of the things that were left in the house: copper piping, jewelry, things like that. I had just written all of these things off as gone. I had just assumed this house would always be a scorched spot of earth, always to be looked upon as an embarrassment.
People would say, “How did this happen?” How did you LET your house burn to the ground?” “What’s wrong with YOU?”
So I moved. And I didn’t move close, I moved as far as a I could so I wouldn’t ever have to drive by that house again. Sure, I would see it in my dreams, my nightmares. I would yell at the fire and tell it that it ruined everything. I told it to go away and never come back. I’d always wake up sweating, swearing I was covered in soot.
So now these people, these scavengers…. Is there any reason to let them in? Once something precious has been tainted, does it still retain it’s value?
My father is an attorney so from a young age I had heard of things like “wrongful death”. If someone dies wrongfully, does any amount of money ever fix it? If I was hit by a bus tomorrow, would my loved ones rejoice at the 5x annual base salary I’ve provided for them in my loss? Or would they just wither away and long to be with me in my death, only to become a living zombie.
I think I will let these people in. Not for the potential recovery of valued items, but to find the answer to that question. At what point does a certain sum of money make things ok–if ever.
It turns out I didn’t actually like my old life nearly as much as I thought I did. I know this now because I occasionally catch up with my old colleagues and work-mates. They fall over each other to enthusiastically show me the latest project they’re working on. Ask my opinion. Proudly show off their technical prowess (which is not inconsiderable.) I find myself glazing over but politely listen as they brag about who’s had the least sleep and the most takeaway food. “I haven’t seen my wife since January, I can’t feel my legs any more and I think I have scurvy but another three weeks and we’ll be done. It’s got to be done by then The client’s going on holiday. What do I think?”
What do I think?
I think you’re all fucking mad. Deranged. So disengaged from reality it’s not even funny. It’s a fucking TV commercial. Nobody gives a shit.
This has come as quite a shock I can tell you. I think, I’ve come to the conclusion that the whole thing was a bit of a con. A scam. An elaborate hoax.
Countless late nights and weekends, holidays, birthdays, school recitals and anniversary dinners were willingly sacrificed at the altar of some intangible but infinitely worthy higher cause. It would all be worth it in the long run…
This was the con. Convincing myself that there was nowhere I’d rather be was just a coping mechanism. I can see that now. It wasn’t really important. Or of any consequence at all really. How could it be. We were just shifting product. Our product, and the clients. Just meeting the quota. Feeding the beast as I called it on my more cynical days.
So was it worth it?
Well of course not. It turns out it was just advertising. There was no higher calling.
“Blogs were one of the earliest forms of social networking where people were writing 1,000 words. When we moved to status updates on Facebook, our posts became shorter. Then micro-blogs like Twitter came along and shortened our updates to 140 characters. Now we are even skipping words altogether and moving towards more visual communication with social-sharing sites like Pinterest.”—