Less than a week ago the hills around my home were on fire. On Wednesday we were told to prepare to evacuate. With ALL that is going on in our world, and most recently with the Southern California fires, I keep hearing the Hamilton song “A World turned Upside Down”—yes, I continue to be obsessed. I’ve never before experienced having a fire so close to our home; and being told I had a very limited amount of time to protect my most important things was an interesting life exercise to go through.
The first thing that kicked in was an eerie inner fight vs flight calm we all innately have. It’s basically a calm “go mode” where I needed to continue moving forward taking action, but needed to stay calm enough to make the best decisions. I remember having to consistently consciously tell myself to “exhale.”
“Prepare to evacuate” means pack up all of the “things” that are important to you that you can fit in your car. Since Bobby, my husband, and I don’t have any living beings in our home, the question of “what to take” came down to simply, “stuff.”
I have a TON of STUFF… notably, artwork, books and shoes… oh, and my sweaters… and closets full of yarn. And handbags, and some really fun dresses. Nevertheless… Stuff. We didn’t know how long we might be displaced. We didn’t know if everything we had researched and purchased over the years would be reduced to ash in the next 24 hours. We didn’t know what was in our future. While standing in my closet trying to decide what stuff was “important” to take.… I had total clarity.
1. My Ugg booties. Not just Uggs but leather little booties with traditional Ugg shearling inside. And my most flexible pair of UnderArmour tennis shoes that I love to choreograph in and that I can wear 18 hours a day without my feet hurting. Practical, comfortable and comforting.
2. My best-fitting jeans. Jeans are durable, but they are also practical. I didn’t need the cute, fashionable ripped jeans and definitely not the ones that show my panties every time I bend over (those need to go anyway). Again… practical, comfortable and comforting.
3. I needed some tops and since I was hoping that UCLA would still be open and functioning, I needed tops to coach in that could transfer to evening wear. I chose three sweaters, black, blue and grey… all soft cashmere. #Practical #Comfortable #Comforting—grabbing these felt like chicken soup for my body.
4. Underwear and socks and bra-lined camisoles, which add an extra layer of warmth while acting as a bra. Again… P. C. C.
Standing in my closet I looked to my right to my rather large collection of fun fancy shoes. I didn’t even think twice… Nope… they didn’t serve a purpose. Definitely not Practical. Most of them not that Comfortable. And only Comforting when everything else in life is going well and I could afford some frivolous indulgence.
There was literally nothing else that was of any interest to take. Not the shoes, not the fancy bags, not the fun dresses… I looked at my suitcase and it was literally half full when I was ready to walk. On my way to the car I grabbed a light weight puffy jacket, two small photos of my mom, three pieces of art, and the small box of jewelry that might be worth a wee bit if I needed to sell some “stuff.”
Bobby got the birth certificates and passports and a few other important paper items—and away we went. It felt SO LIBERATING.
I shared all of this with a girlfriend who said that when she was thinking of what she’d pack to evacuate she got really sad because there wasn’t much in the house that really meant that much besides photos of her family. It was a fascinating conversation. (Please note, my girlfriend is the farthest thing from Debbie Downer. She is one of the most naturally positive people I know.) Why would she be sad about that? I felt so liberated, happy and free not feeling emotionally tied to my stuff where she was sad that there wasn’t more stuff she was emotionally tied to.
I invite all of you to pretend you are “preparing to evacuate.” What would you take? Considering how much I enjoy fancy fun “stuff”… I was pleasantly surprised that the criteria for my choices was “P.C.C.” = Practical, Comfortable, and Comforting.