Thursday, October 25, 2007

Distilling a Lifetime into a Suitcase

In the heat of the Californian bush fires there are many stories emerging about what evacuees are choosing to take with them to a safe place.

LA Times reporters, Janet Eastman and Bettijane Levine say:

“The decisions are made in a scary, smoky instant. A wildfire is blazing toward the front door: What to take to safety? What to leave behind?”

“One woman in Malibu grabbed her old wedding ring and divorce papers. A Santa Clarita man showed up at an evacuation center with four suitcases but little memory of what he and his wife threw into them. ‘Probably not what we need,’ he said, clutching his pillow. An Escondido woman, her head cloudy with panic, rescued her $1,000 Christian Louboutin shoes.”

“Practical or sentimental, irreplaceable or as inconsequential as a carton of orange juice, the belongings that fire evacuees packed up before fleeing home speaks to the daunting task of distilling a life into a backpack, a suitcase or the trunk of a car.”

Police and emergency officials are using this opportunity to say that all people, everywhere, should prepare an evacuation plan to be followed in a time of emergency.

That is wise advice but an interesting thought rising from the Californian smoke is this question: “What do I have that is of value to me? If I had to “distill [my] life into a backpack, a suitcase or the trunk of a car, what things, people and animals would I take?

To read the entire article, follow this link:

Janet Eastman & Bettjane Levine, ‘Stuffing a Lifetime into a Suitcase’, LA Times, 25 October 2007.

Image: ‘Stuffing a Lifetime into a Suitcase’