Our furnace stopped working sometime this week.

There is a symmetry to this, the furnace in the house we are buying in Denver also has amotivational syndrome. We live here now though, so we need the house to be warm. On the upside it took us a while to notice that it wasn’t working. Thats how well built this house is. On the downside it was 0 degrees last night, so we did begin to notice.

Today as Steve and I worked from home he lit a fire in our kitchen. So I decided to burn things. What other response should I have really?

I burned through old credit card statements, lease agreements for buildings sold, printed lists of the plagues from passover sedars, brochures from non profits that I somehow saved. An entire folder of student loan paperwork, after years now paid. Menu drafts from The Waiting Room, water heater rental agreements, raw data from tax returns from the nineties, business plans from business wannabes.

The fire raged.

I watched the flames lick the edges of the pages, then tear through them with ferocious speed when I fed it individual sheets. It was gentle when I placed in entire sheafs of paper towards the back of the hearth. The air from the fire turned the pages; glowing edges and grey centers transformed into ash. Letters and numbers were just legible as they broke into particles and lifted up. Lighter. Gone.

Steve said the fire felt good. It really did.

My favorite bit was 22 pages of amortization from an owner financed purchase of the 101 Main Street building. A fire in the building led to our sale. Now I was burning the last vestiges. The LLC that my business partner and I used to buy the building was Cart before the Horse. So true. On these pages it was abbreviated Cart before the Ho. I watched row after row of dollars we never paid, remembering the year of negotiations with the insurance agency. It worked out in the end but for a while that fire left us standing exposed. The building itself waited 5 years to be buttoned up, a process that you can check out if you live in Vermont.

Those numbers have lost their power. Those concerns long ago put to rest. Not every paper represented something I was glad to see go…I was moved by carefully filed pet records of the pets already turned to ash themselves.

A few things escaped the flames. The mailing list for my father’s art shows. I know almost none of those colleagues live in those houses anymore, but there are a few bits of his handwriting, adding husbands names to wives, stars that meant he wanted to add personal notes before I sealed the invites. These few strokes of the pen made me put the files back in the bin. Perhaps to be burned next time.

Have I told you our new house is on Ash street?

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Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble, Parent.co, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at annarosenblumpalmer.com.

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