Georgina Guedes

What would you save from your burning house?

2013-01-31 14:48

Georgina Guedes

An article on www.brainpickings.org showcased the work of designer and photographer Foster Huntington, as he asked people to assemble the items that they would rescue from their burning house. Of course, the exercise pre-supposes that your family and your pets have escaped.

So, in imagining that my home is being consumed by a slow-burning fire, but my children, husband, cat and dog are safely huddled on the lawn with me, here are the 10 things that I would venture back in for, with a damp towel wrapped around my head:

1.    The 1T external hard drive that contains all my backed-up work as well as 10 years of digital photographs. In fact, this exercise made me so paranoid about this hard drive that I have determined to make a copy of the whole thing and store it at my mom’s house.

2.    My Kindle. I’m awfully fond of it, but I haven’t insured it yet. I’ll count on the insurance to cover the big-screen TV, the computers and various other high-cost items.

3.    My wedding and engagement rings. I don’t wear them all the time, but I love them – the engagement ring was bought in Brazil, the wedding ring was made and engraved specially – so they’re irreplaceable.

4.    A bundle of clothes. Replacing clothing is a ball-ache, and I just updated my wardrobe with a pile of stuff from the Zara sale. Some of it I haven’t even worn yet. Such a waste for it to get eaten up by a raging inferno.

5.    My daughter’s Lego. She loves that stuff. Having a house burn down is pretty traumatic. Having her Lego will help.

6.    My son’s singing dinosaur. He’s not that attached to it – he mostly wants our cell phones, our keys and our remote controls – but if he one day asks what I saved for him when our house burnt down, I’d like to be able to give a good answer.

7.    My daughter’s first babygrow. I have a lot invested in my dream of showing her that she was once that small.

8.    My son’s first babygrow. Ditto.

9.    My cookbook collection. Does this count as one item? Could I drag the whole shelf out of the house? If I had to choose just one… I couldn’t. I’d dither in indecision as burning shards of my roof collapsed around my ears.

10.    The fair-trade earthenware Peruvian cooking pot made by a women’s collective and given to us as a wedding present by two dear friends. I love that thing.

I look back over the list and I am surprised by the insignificance of most of those items. As much as we spend most of our lives scuttling about in pursuit of material things, the really important things are family and good health. And of course, it helps that we have such things as insurance, or that list might look a whole lot different.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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