When they were evacuating the people a few streets from us, because of the fires, we packed the car.
All the essentials – twenty-four litres of water, woollen blankets, natural fibre clothes, boots - in case of the worst, but also the stuff we really didn’t want to lose.
It took a surprisingly short amount of time.
Laptops. Cameras. Documents. My wedding dress and cloak. Poppet’s christening gown. Some carvings from the Solomon Islands. Some old books from my Great Aunts.
Everything else… well… I’d miss the ‘stuff’, but I wasn’t going to try cramming it into the car.
If there were more options as to where to go, we would have gone in an instant. But with the main roads to Melbourne cut off, and the back roads uncomfortably close to fires, there weren’t. So we stayed, and checked and checked.
And waddling through the house as we waited, it surprised me how little the thought of losing all the ‘stuff’ upset me. All the books and knick-nacks and trinkets and clothes collected over a lifetime were little more than a shrug. More important was whether we had the dog’s lead and the phones were fully charged.
Even the stuff I did pack? If we’d been told we had to leave now, we would have done so without a blink.
Not being particularly bothered about all my precious treasures – whether they’re heirlooms, or were lovingly gifted or gleefully collected from thriftshops… is both surprising and oddly freeing. Yes, I’m sure I’ll still be sad when they get broken, but I realised that if we’re told we have to leave it all and might never see them again, it’s not much more than a few heart tugs.
I’d always thought I’d be more upset if everything went. Reading stories about people having to leave their homes and everything in them I always thought they must have been devastated. The immediate threat focused my mind amazingly. When it came to it, it was all just 'stuff.' Yes, I 'love' it. Yes, a lot of it makes me happy. But it is just 'stuff'.
As soon as the heat and smoke clear, the iron tablets kick in with some energy, as soon as the fire danger lessens and I can go more than a few minutes without checking updates, catch up on the sleep lost over the nights we spent checking the fire updates, I’m doing a big cull.
It should be fun.
I'll just have another nap (or two) first.