The first text arrived at 3:16 on Saturday afternoon. “Explosion at M’s today. It’s on fire.” Despite my usual disdain for 24 hour news, I obsessively checked all available sources around the clock for details in every update on the destruction.
All the building glass blown out.
Flames shooting from top of building.
Entire roof engulfed in flames.
Smoke and debris filling the air.
All the people running.
A timeless treasure.
A total loss
Despite the news, miraculously no one was killed.
M’s Pub was a historic icon in the heart of our city, the Old Market district. The losses from the fire were huge. The entire block was struck.
M’s was home to innumerable memories for many. My own most memorable M’s moment was my first date with my second husband. I still remember rushing through the tall front door on a spring evening wearing my sage green dress with my favorite wide brimmed hat of the same shade, trimmed with a velvet rose. It was at M’s, too, that we had our “make it or break it” talk about couples counseling that gave our relationship a foundation for the next decade.
Next door to M’s was Nouvelle Eve, the boutique where I once bought the black velvet floor length evening gown that cost more than each of my wedding dresses combined. And just five days before the disaster my shockingly grown up children and I toasted the new year with Manhattans at the Market House whose doors are now shuttered.
My toast was to my word for the year: Anew. I vowed that in 2016 I would look at life anew. At my work and at my relationships. At my finances and at my fun. At my home at and at my happiness. Turning 60 just weeks ago, the start of 2016 was a chance for me not to change my life, but to look at my life from a fresh perspective. To look anew.
Seeing the devastation in the midst of bitter cold days and nights, I wonder how those who have lost their homes, their hopes and their dreams will ever be able to look anew. When a lifetime of memories and memorabilia, of art and love, of livelihood and prosperity go up in flames, just how do you look anew?
Whether it is a devastating fire or a dreadful divorce, looking anew is something we may not know how to do. Nevertheless, we choose to. We decide to. We will ourselves to.
Destruction and loss demand that we grieve, and grieve we will. And then we can choose–whether we think we can, we want to, or we know how to—to look anew.