When I was 20 I caused a tiny fire in my oven.
It wasn’t a big deal. It was perhaps the size of a quarter. I’d been trying to bake a cake and some of the batter leaked out and caught on fire. My sister saw it before it got any bigger, grabbed the fire extinguisher, and gave my cake a nice white frost.
After all was taken care of, I did what any normal person would do.
I wrote a poem about it.
It was called “Domesticity” and it was about fire and memory and life and ash, and I honestly doubt it was any good but I remember typing it up really fast, barely thinking, as if it was simply second nature to do so.
And I’ve been thinking a lot about that spark in the oven, how we’re often so quick to extinguish it. For safety purposes.
How we don’t always know where the heat in our heart comes from until a moment we’re forced not to think. Just react.
How we don’t always know who we are, but that doesn’t stop our actions from defining us.
This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for little fires that taught me I was a writer. For failures that showed me I wouldn’t give up. For little nieces that invented new ways for me to love someone. For students who’ve inspired me to teach.
What unexpected event has helped define you?