In the Japanese religion of Shinto, a great emphasis is made on cleanliness and purity, with various elements and events contributing to the purity not only of the individual, but of the individual's surroundings. One of the most major catastrophies in Shinto is death, said to be the most impure of all things. A house in which a death has occurred must be scrubbed from top to bottom to appease the spirits and prevent further spiritual damage. I don't practice Shinto, but I have to wonder how the spirits would respond to the recent death of the Delt Haus' kitchen, which went down in a blaze about a week and a half ago. Would they be happy that we're cleaning up after its untimely demise, or would they be unsure of how to respond to one of its purification agents (fire) contributing to that very untimely demise?
In any event, the loss of the Delt kitchen came as quite a shock to me. When I signed the lease to live in our fraternity's shelter for the next academic year, I had expected to arrive at the Haus and find it in the condition that I had left it in May. And I definitely wouldn't have expected a kitchen fire to become as out of control as it had--as you can see in the picture joining this blog post, the poor room is a total loss. I expected smaller issues when I signed that lease, stuff like spotty internet or noisy weekend nights. I didn't expect preparing to move into over $60,000 in damages.
The kitchen was the hardest hit, but smoke damage rendered most of our upstairs uninhabitable. Soot covered our furniature, chemicals embedded themselves into things they shouldn't have been embedded into, and some of our prized possessions as a fraternity--various awards, old photographs, our Nintendo 64--may or may not be still suitable for display and use.
A few days ago, I spent an evening doing some deep cleaning with a handful of my brothers, as well as some helpful Delt alumni who happened to be in the area. Thankfully, the Haus has insurance (you wouldn't think a house full of 20 year olds would go without it, right?), so our upstairs is ultimately going to be rebuilt. But before the workers provided by our insurance can do their work, we have to make sure we make things as hospitable as possible for them. That means cleaning soot off of walls, tearing out carpeting now ununsable, sweeping every floor that can possibly be swept, and moving any valuables that we can still use into our Bunker, which is basically a large, sophisticated shed. Those of us that were there that night ended up piling all our damaged furniature into our driveway. I took some photographs for the insurance folks, who were going to need them as a reference after we got the okay to destroy our poor chairs and couches. After that, we got started on the cleaning process--one of us tore up carpets, others began scrubbing walls, and I swept until my arms would let me sweep no longer.
With luck, this whole cleaning process will be complete before the school year starts, and the insurance will do its work. But after seeing the condition of the Haus for myself, I worry about where exactly I'll be spending the first couple weeks of term. I spent some quality time cleaning up what will officially be my room in September, a room that as of right now has no carpet, a busted door, and a wall that will more than likely be torn down and rebuilt. According to our fraternity's president, my room may be one of the very last to be completely finished and move in ready. He assurred me that even if it wasn't prepared, the insurance could put me up in a nearby hotel, or else provide me with a room somewhere on campus that I could use until I could actually move in. If worse comes to worst, I'll have to shuttle myself back and forth to campus from my parent's house here in Meridian, although such an event doesn't sound like it will happen.
The night it happened, we made a post on our Facebook page that the new Delt kitchen will rise from the ashes of the old, like a phoenix. I can only hope that it rises sooner rather than later.
Clayton is a junior creative writing major from Meridian, Idaho.