October 02, 2004

A Question of Values

When I was junior high school a fire in the mountains above our house threatened to make us evacuate, and my mother sent me to my room to pack, just in case. She warned me that we couldn't take everything. So I grabbed a brown paper grocery bag and went to my room and into it I placed that which I valued most--my Tolkien books. I had a boxed set of paperback copies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (the ones with Tolkien's own paintings on the front cover and Tolkien's picture on the back); I might have added one or two others. I don't remember for sure whether I included the Narnia books or not, but I don't believe I did.

Then I placed the bag gently in the backseat of my mother's car. That was it. I was done.

Say what you will about me, it hadn't even occurred to me to pack clothing.

Posted by Will Duquette at October 2, 2004 09:40 AM

Mark D. said:

I think that's beautiful. If that had happened to me at that age, I probably would have taken the Bach Christmas Oratorio. Period.

Deb said:

So what would you take now?

Will Duquette said:

It would depend on how much time we had. Assuming we had a couple of hours, I'd bring the following:

The kids. Clothes for everyone. My laptop, and Jane's laptop; that gets us quite a few of our financial records, and all the digital photos I've ever taken. A select box of things from our files--credit card stuff, birth certificates, insurance information, that kind of thing. A box of real photos, including our wedding album. The kids' treasures: teddy bears, favorite toys.

Given time I probably would grab a handful of books just so we'd all have something to read. And it's entirely possible that I'd grab some of my Tolkien hardcovers--mostly because my mom gave most of them to me over the years despite having a tolerably low opinion of them, and so they remind me of her.

But I've got far too many books to evacuate, and anyway they are replaceable.

Lars Walker said:

Family photos. I've become the designated repository for my late parents' whole collection of family photos. I'm supposed to be in the midst of an ongoing project to scan them all to .jpg files so I can share them with my brothers, and incidentally to preserve them in case I should have a fire or something. Not doing great on that project. Maybe some more this afternoon...

I think I got the job because it was me who actually took the time, while the folks were still alive, to go through most of the photos with them and ask "Who is this?" "Who is this?" so that all those people could be identified after they were gone.

I wonder if I'd rescue my own novels? Probably not. Replaceable, though not as easy to get as Tolkien.