Last Wednesday morning, Doug (the hubby), boys and I boarded a plane for an impromptu getaway. We were smiling and excited to be spending some much needed time together, and we were looking forward to some quiet from the wonderful chaos that is our life in San Diego. Little did we know that we were literally exiting from the firestorm madness that held San Diego captive for the next several days, and we would be returning after it was all over and done with.
And there we were, “happily” on vacation while our friends and family dealt with fires creeping into their back yards, evacuations, unbearable heat, water and energy restrictions, a fear of the unknown, and the concept of packing everything valuable into their car and driving away from their homes, with the hopes it would still be there when they returned.
Now the fire season isn’t a new concept to any seasoned San Diegan. We deal with this every year, and some years are worse than others. But evacuations are seldom, so it’s not something we tend to practice on a regular basis. And that idea of “value” that suddenly comes into play as you are throwing belongings into a duffle bag – that suddenly seems to change when we are forced to make choices. I mean, I have some friends that literally grabbed a change of clothes, the dog and a photo album and jetted out the door. And I have others who packed their cars to the brim with anything and everything of “value”, and then (fortunately) had to unpack it all again and put it away when the evacuations were lifted.
So did you have to pack? Were you evacuated? Think back about what you chose to bring, or what you put on the mental checklist as a “must have” if you were forced to pack up. We weren’t even there and I spent a good amount of time thinking about it. A good amount of time!
Ultimately, I really think that moving forward we should use these packing decisions in a positive way. Take a look at the items that truly mattered to you during the process, and make an effort to surround yourself with that kind of “value”. Don’t keep it packed away in a closet – bring it out and treasure it on a daily basis. That family photo album? Make it a centerpiece of conversation so that everyone can share in the amazing memories. That favorite painting or family heirloom? Display it with pride so that others can benefit from the same joy you experience every time you pass by. Share the family knickknacks and mementos. Share the stories and the memories.
Because the reality is that, unless you decide to develop a serious case of agoraphobia, you can’t always be there when the unexpected occurs. You just might find yourself on a plane, on your way to a lovely vacation with your spouse, unaware of the powerlessness you will soon know. The house and the stuff might disappear and that may be completely out of your control, so I think the best idea is to make sure that the memories and stories attached to that house and all of the stuff inside of that house, are unpacked for good, and shared and enjoyed by all.
Our hearts go out to anyone affected by the fires, and our gratitude goes out to all of those firefighters who kept our community safe and sound, and who continue to do so, on a daily basis.