They all go, even the ones who say they want to keep working. This desire fizzles out as the days get colder and the work gets more monotonous. I can't blame them, really: when I was in their shoes I wanted to leave too, to get to the next part of my life.
Now I'm the only one left, except for D., who has managed to stay out on assignment in California for the last month. I turn the heat up. I don't have to forego a shower after running because there are nine other people who want to use the one bathroom. There are no time sheets, no putting my employees before myself, no questions. Even though I really like my crew, it is peaceful.
Some, like B., have gotten other jobs. The other B. got married and nobody sees much of him. IH fled a month ago to a raft trip in Peru. J. went back to sunny California, but he likes it here and may be back someday. M. and J. got real jobs, which is what we call any job that isn't firefighting. MB is in nursing school. C. has not resurfaced in awhile, but whatever he is doing probably involves coffee and a skateboard.
Some of them will be back and others won't. Sometimes the ones who return seem the least likely to at the end of the season. As for the ones who don't, who move on to hotshot crews or smokejumping or real jobs, our paths will probably cross at some point in the future. Then we will reminisce about Hay Creek and hanging out with Alex and sitting in the grass at Ferndale with food from Woody's. Even if they never fight fire again, they were once part of the fire brother and sisterhood for a little while. It's something you never forget.
|This is what it looks like around here right now|