Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Grappling with the Graple

Wow. Yesterday was the first day of major demo on the house. We were both excited and apprehensive about how we would feel. Heading over to the house so early, felt eerily like those first days postfire when we were at the house throughout the day, going through things and meeting with insurance adjusters. Yesterday morning we were met by a friend D., who has most generously offered to film key points of our rebuild to make into a DVD documenting this chapter of our lives; our friends L. and A. who thoughtfully brought coffee for us; and the demo guys who were prepping the house and waiting for the grapple to arrive.

The main demo guy walked us around the house and explained the plan. One thing we were both interested and happy to hear is how much recycling these guys do. He explained that they'll separate as best they can, the wood from the cement and block, the later of which can be recycled into road beds. Also all the metal from the house- from the duct work to piping- will all be recycled.

The grapple arrived a little after 8am. The thing is Enormous. For the next 7 hours we watched, completely awe-struck, as it went to work. He worked in the back of the house, starting with the deck, moving to the family room and then to the upstairs. The machine is unbelievably powerful and really looks like a giant t-rex head--whether taking a giant mouthful of roof or ramming its head on top of a pile of wood to crush it down to fit into the dumpster.

There were moments that were difficult to watch, like when it first started really destroying our family room structure, or when it lifted our mattress out and crushed it in its powerful jaws. When they broke for lunch, M and I walked around carefully and picked out a bit of the mural that had been painted on the wall in one of the spare, someday-kids room. Many of my books lay scattered in the framing and insulation, bits of sheet music were scattered throughout the debris.

That said, the spectacle was just incredible. Neighbors wandered over and at one point we had probably a dozen kids sitting on the neighbor's lawn gasping and cheering as the grapple's mouth appeared from behind the house and started demo-ing the roof. I imagine it's something they won't soon forget.

Most of all, this is the biggest visible progress in months. As strange as it was watching the machine rip apart our home and crush it down and load it into dumpsters.... watching those dumpsters being carted away brought a tremendous sense of relief and optimism.

At the end of the day, the whole back of the house was gone. The only thing left standing in the back, ironically, was the fireplace/chimney where this whole thing started. Today, M. and I have to be back at work, but the machine will continue to break down the framing and selected masonry and the chimney. They'll have some hand demo to do after that and then clean and prep for framing.

Last night we came home a bit sunburned and absolutely exhausted. I described it to M. that I felt as though I had just watched a really intense movie.... that feeling of re-emerging from a dark theater into the 'real world' but still feeling caught up in the drama and emotionally drained. Yesterday I contributed it solely to watching the demo itself... but in thinking about it now, it may also have been the feeling of a larger turning point... that finally, after months of being so bogged down by this, we're moving forward, leaving the dark weight of the loss and stepping back into our 'real world'.

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