While the Santa Ana winds were spreading fire along the California coast last fall, we had our own wildfire right here. Forty minutes before the call came, Brian had taken a Tylenol PM and gone to bed. In less than 5 minutes he was out the door. Thankfully no one was hurt, but we had wild winds of our own that night, and several homes and a few hotels were evacuated.
Good friends of ours live near the wetlands that burned, and the next day she was relating to me how she gave each of her children one bag to fill with whatever they wanted to take, in case the evacuation reached her home. She also spoke with some alarm about realizing how little she would want to take with her.
I came home and looked around our house and wondered what I would load into a car. If it's a house fire, you only grab people and get out. But if you were given time, say two hours or so, to prepare for an evacuation, not knowing if your house would be one of the lucky ones or would never be seen again, what would you take?
Looking around my home, I had the same reaction as my friend Amy: there isn't a lot that I couldn't live without. Not that I don't appreciate what we have, but most of it is replaceable. I was racking my brain for what would not be replaceable...and realizing how impossible it would be to think in the actual panic of a real evacuation. I have a few books signed by their authors...would I really want to grab those?
Here's what I'd want: the samovar from my colleagues in Selikhino, a few handmade treasures--Kim Justice's version of The Storm, the box of letters and cards from Brian, photos from the days before digital, old journals, and my hard drive. The boys' baby albums. I rarely wear any jewelry, but the few items I own are sentimental in value, so I would grab those as well.
Do you know what you would pack? Perhaps write a list and tape it to your fire-safe box, just in case.
I asked my boys the same question as we walked to the park that week, but I limited them to five items each.
Aidan immediately rattled off his list.
1. "the thing on my wall"
It took me a while to figure out he meant this:
And that made me so happy. A boy who values photos: be still my heart. We have one side loaded with photos of faraway family, the other with friends. Now I'm determined to keep it better updated (above photo is at least 3 yrs old...so the photos are all even older).
2. "My yellow blankie" ---his lovey since he was a baby.
3. "The cars Uncle Kevin gave me." I love this boy.
4. "Curious George" (the big one Aunt Mimi gave him before he was even born & that often sleeps with him)
5. "the clock above my bed" (only after being told the bunkbeds would have to stay)
Sean followed Aidan's lead:
1. "my blue blankie"
2. "my trains"
3. "Buzz Lightyear" (which one?)
4. "Yellow" --his big yellow dog from Carol.
5. "Ace" from Planet Heroes.
When we arrived at the park, I found a friend who had a pen and I scribbled their lists on the back of a receipt in my wallet so I wouldn't forget. But I did forget...until I cleaned out my wallet today.
About a month later, Brian took the bigs out to the preserve to help plant trees among the ashes. My boys returned black; the tub had to be emptied and refilled three times, the water was so dirty from all the ash they brought home. Bri said they planted about 14 trees before they decided to eat their snack and just watch their dad work. Still, I love the idea that some day the wooden walkway will be rebuilt in the preserve and our boys will walk under those very trees.