Monday, March 21, 2011


Never a dull moment here. A week ago Friday we got evacuated--again--due to wildfire. Added to the excitement was the new twist of evacuating with guests. Adam's dad and step mom had been here for less than twenty-four hours when I got a reverse 911 call alerting us to a wildfire. Due to the reported location and the distance (or lack thereof) from us, I knew it was only a matter of time before we'd be told to leave. Our guests were troopers and never missed a beat as they packed up their belongings and then helped us gather kids, cats, dog, guinea pigs, photo books, and a few irreplaceable photos and paintings.

Evacuation is an interesting exercise. Since this is the third time we've prepared or actually been evacuated, we've got the drill more or less mastered. Our fire department and home owner's association prepared a checklist that makes it easy to think about what to gather. We finally got smart after the last fire and put our most important papers into a safe deposit box. So the most basic stuff is taken care of. But then comes that instruction on the checklist to pack a week's worth of clothing. This is when push really comes to shove and decisions must be made! Here's what I learned this time, in this season. I was not willing to let my Smartwool socks burn, or my Ibex pants, my ancient and tattered denim shirt or my favorite gray sweatshirt which I dug out of the dirty laundry. Oh, and let's not forget my Levi's jeans. A few favorite earrings, a few books and I was good to go.

I don't want to make light of what I know is traumatic--losing all of one's stuff to a fire or some other disaster. But I must say that going through this sort of reduction of my stuff to what is the most important brings me face-to-face with the tyranny of "stuff." Even though we're not big shoppers or collectors, and despite a number of moves over the years (which, for us, always forces a paring down), our belongings have amassed and sometimes it feels overwhelming. So I have this fantasy of it all (okay, most) disappearing in some fairy-with-a-magic-wand sort of way in which no one is traumatized by any scary event, it all just disappears.

Could I make it "all" disappear? Yes, but not without lots of hand wringing and angst. I imagine that if it disappeared (with the truly most important stuff staying--this is a fantasy, after all), I could shrug my shoulders over the few things I missed and that my load would feel lighter. Guess it's time to go clean out a drawer.