What do I take?


I know you’ve thought about it. You’ve thought about it more often this week. “The house is on fire, I’ve got to get out, there’s time to grab only a couple of things. What do I take?”

I thought about it, too. This morning I watched as a CNN crew went with two neighbors in one neighborhood to see what was left. One neighbor still had a house. Another had ashes and her family. (More video)

What do you take?

It was an easier question when my kids lived at home. I’d get them out or die trying. They’ve moved away now so it’s just me, the wife, and the dog. I’m willing to sacrifice the fish in the aquarium.

Yesterday I watched a CNN segment in which people and their pets are camped out in a park in San Diego. “That’s trouble I never thought of,” I said to myself. My dog, loveable as he is toward humans, can’t stand other dogs. If I were in that park, I’d have two problems: (1) I’d have nothing but my wife and my dog left (2) I’d have no time to put things back together because all of my time would be spent restraining this 80-pound dog as he attempted to kill every other homeless dog.

Leave the dog? And risk the rath of Ellen Degeneres?

I’d take pictures; I’ve got a closet full of ’em. But which ones? The wedding photos? Nah, we were all dressed up. That’s not really us. The pictures of my kids when they were small? (There are more of the first son than the second). The high school graduation? The prom? The scrapbook of my childhood that my mother gave me years ago? The picture of my now-deceased father?

My credit cards? ATM card. Checkbook? Data backup off the computer? Shoes? Cellphone? Keys to the car? A videocamera so I can send stuff to CNN?

I can’t take them all. And you? What do you take?

Meanwhile, on NPR this morning, one man said he left his father’s cane on the door and prized possessions from his dead parents. He figured, somehow, spirtually they would help fight the fire. And, indeed, his house was spared while his neighbors’ houses burned. Which makes me wonder why he didn’t put the stuff farther down the canyon.

FMI: Wildfire survivor: Before you have to face a disaster, be prepared

Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images.

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