My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to all my near-neighbors who’ve lost their houses in these San Diego firestorms. Our neighborhood was untouched, and aside from a pool-full of ash and a smoky smell to the air, our place is fine.
My wife, three step-daughters, and I evacuated for a couple of days, which, with the exception of the fire-related stress, was more like a mini-vacation than a refugee experience. When I checked in at the Manchester Hyatt (we were lucky enough to find a couple of rooms before they were all snatched–thanks, Andrea!) the agent asked me if I was part of the “fire group,” which would qualify us for a special room rate and a 20% discount on all food and beverages.
“Ummm…okay…the fire group. I guess that would be us.”
The hotel staff did a great job of handling our “group,” but I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get a name tag.
Hello My Name is Steve. Poway. Evacuee.
It was interesting to see what each person in our family had packed to take with them. In addition to a few changes of clothes:
Presley, the 12 year old soccer player (state cup champs last year), took all her soccer medals, a soccer ball, and a picture that my son, Jeremy, had drawn for her a couple of years ago. And, of course, the Wii.
Kelsey, 17, took all her shoes.
Heather, 14, grabbed the PS2.
My wife, Veronica, packed the important documents, select family photo albums, and a folder full of old letters that my father had written to my mother in the years before I was born. Jeez…I hadn’t even thought of that.
I gathered up my favorite guitars: my Martin D-45, Fender Strat, 1959 Gibson ES-330 and 1980 Gibson ES-347. Those, and my laptop, were all I really cared to take with me.
Frankly, as long as my family was safe, nothing else truly mattered, but still, it seems that what we pack when fleeing a fire says at least something about who we are. At least in that adrenaline-stoked moment.
So here’s a question for you: with a fire marching towards your home, and minutes to decide, what would you pack?
And may that question be forever hypothetical for you and yours.