Pete Gavin is one of thousands of evacuated Sonoma Valley residents waiting to hear the fate of his family house. What he does know, however, is that his home is as strong as ever.
It is 2:30 in the morning, and I am in a hotel room in Sonoma 13.8 miles south of our home in Santa Rosa. I am up because I can’t sleep and because we’ve been evacuated due to encroaching fires from all directions. I do not know if we will ever see our home again.
I just went online to a government satellite map that shows active fires in real time in our area. There is a red square less than a quarter-mile southwest of our home, a square that wasn’t there last night when we went to bed. I look it up on the legend, and it says, “Emerging, 0-12 hours.”
A shiver runs up my spine as I try to contemplate the very real prospect we may lose our home, the home we moved into less than a year ago, the home with our treasures, keepsakes, memories from our life together.
It is a chilling feeling, one I wasn’t even remotely familiar with until only a few days ago when we found ourselves thrust into a burning hell we never could have imagined.
My dog snores on the bed beside me, the bed we borrowed from friends because we left our home in such a hurry. Besides Miles’ bed, we also left food in the fridge, plants unwatered, all our clothes – except a few essentials – some of our meds, our art – everything we own.
It’s devastating to think about what may happen in the next 48 hours. But I know there are many brave and strong and very tired firefighters, police officers, PG & E workers risking their lives trying their very best to save our home. Our home, and those of our neighbors.
I am overcome with gratitude and love for these people I don’t even know. People that make me feel connected to our home and community in a way I have never felt before. And I realize: even though our house may go, our home is solid, more solid in fact than it has ever been.
With a Perspective, I’m Pete Gavin.
Pete Gavin is a retired teacher. As of last night, his house is still standing.