What I would save from my burning house

Last night I had one of those moments that you fear most in life and that you pray will never happen to you. I was in my room watching the season six finale of Suits (I know, I’m so behind) when my mum ran in. She told me “honey, pack some things and get out of the house” and then she disappeared. In that moment, you know exactly what is happening, nothing further needing to be said. As you sit there, you begin to recollect every time you have pondered to yourself “if my house was on fire and I had 2 minutes to gather every single thing I want saved, knowing that I will probably never see the rest of my stuff again, what would I save?”. Let me tell you now: when you are actually in the moment and you are flustered and confused by the sudden realisation that this is a very real question that you have very little time to answer and execute… you are going to make a whole lot of crazy choices and it is going to tell you a whole lot about what you truly value in life. So let me talk you through what I saved.

The first thing I saved: Journals

I’m not a massive journal person, I never have been. You can tell by the sporadic nature of these blog posts that as much as I love to write, my motivation is simply not there most of the time. But ever since I started dating my boyfriend over two years ago, I have logged our memories together, as a sort of timeline of our lives. What can I say? I’m sentimental. Maybe one day, when civilisation as we know it ends, the new caretakers of the land will stumble across the journals and a few generations of liberal story telling later, we will become the Orpheus and Eurydice of the modern era. One can dream. Anyway…

These journals were the first thing I saved because those memories are the thing that I cherish most in the world. Not only are they important because they’re memories of my relationship; they also have contextual value. I have lived my entire life in that one house. Every single memory I have has breathed life into the soul of that house. Some of those memories have been captured within the pages of those journals so by saving the journals, I save just the smallest thread of that soul. That, to me, is a comfort I feel I would need if I had just lost everything which had been familiar to me for twenty years and that is why I saved those journals.

Next: Laptop and Tech

Once I knew my journals were safe, I went for my laptop. Now of course, this is also important for sentimental purposes because it’s filled with my photos and various other bits and bobs from over the years, but don’t be fooled: this was a secondary benefit to me at this moment. The first thing that crossed my mind after saving those journals was “I should probably save my laptop because I have assignments to work on”. Yep. I then went on to save my laptop and phone chargers, thinking “well if my phone died, that would be terribly inconvenient and laptop chargers are expensive so I should save that.” My entire house could be burning down right now and in this particularly flustered moment, my laptop charger seemed like the biggest expense to worry about. At this point I can’t decide if I’m thinking sensibly or if I’m right up there with Kitty and Lydia Bennet as one of the silliest girls in the country. Feel free to take a vote, I’d love to know.

Finally: Clothes

In my situation, I was lucky enough to have quite a bit of time to gather my things together. I guarantee you, if there were flames licking up my kitchen walls, I would not be taking the time to grab clothes. But at this point, there were no flames so I took my chances and this is what happened:

I started by grabbing practical stuff like underwear, shorts and basic tops; I just wanted to grab enough stuff to get me through for a few days. But then I realised something. Anyone who knows me could tell you I take my clothes and style very seriously. For some people, dying their hair or getting tattoos makes them happy and gives them that little bit of personality sparkle. Clothes do that for me. So as I stood in my wardrobe I realised that if I was to lose everything and was desperate for something to cheer me up, some of these fun clothes could do that. That may sound shallow and materialistic but remember, at this point I have already saved the important memories so I’m just bringing in reinforcements right now. The reinforcements I chose were a long fluffy coat, my favourite yellow dress (so that I would still have something nice to wear to a wedding I will be attending next week) and a sequin top that makes me glisten like a Christmas bauble. Later I realised that I had forgotten to save my favourite gold sequin blazer and I was pretty disappointed in myself and my life choices at that moment. This has been noted for future reference.

So right now you’re probably a bit confused, trying to paint my character and basing your portrait off what I decided to save and my justifications for doing so. Which is exactly what this blog was designed for. However, if I’ve done my job correctly, your portrait is probably looking a bit more Picaso than da Vinci. Let me tell you why:

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And people are too.

I have my layers and you have yours. Deep down, I’m incredibly sentimental and nothing is more important to me than my memories. Just below the surface, I am a cocktail of perfectionism, drive, academic devotion, career orientation, anxiety and stress. At this level I’m basically a pressure cooker filled with lots of things to do, limited time to do them and self-expectation to do them perfectly every time. But at the same time, I like maintaining that relaxed-charm kind of life, you know? No one likes a perpetual stresser. So I cover that layer up with sequin jackets, fluffy coats and a glorious smile which makes me feel like I have some level of control over my life and brings out the “fun Alice” that everyone knows and loves.

When the firefighters told us that it was a false alarm, I went back into the house, looked over everything I saved and thought to myself “what on earth were you doing? Of all of the things you could have saved, why did you choose that?” But looking back at it now, it makes a lot of sense and I can probably say that I would do exactly the same next time if given the time to do so (this time remembering the gold sequin blazer, of course).

So, what would you save if smoke was billowing out of your roof and you had 20 minutes to pack and get out?

-A

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On a pondering that shouldn’t have been outwardly pondered

It has been a very long time since I last updated this blog. That is because I use it as a way of artistically communicating my thoughts so that people can not only be engaged but can be carried on a journey through my thoughts, my imaginings and my emotions whether they be happy or otherwise. Honestly, nothing has inspired me enough to take this challenge on, these past few months. Until now. So y’all had better sit down, strap in your seat belts and prepare yourselves.

Before I begin, you must understand that I have an immense fear of confrontation. As well as this, if I am in a conversation where too many strong opinions are being expressed, I start to feel physically ill. When I was in grade 12, I had to leave my Study of Religion classroom because I felt so unwell from all of the feminist arguments being tossed about the place that I feared I was going to throw up. This is the level of discomfort I get to.

So anyway:

When you are like me, and you have differing views on many things, you get used to staying silent. Especially when you know every idea or concept you voice will just be crushed under a stampede of the standard ideals. Occasionally, however, in the hopes to bring back thought and fire to an otherwise one-sided and wildly repetitive conversation, you may make the mistake of voicing your thoughts. What then happens is the inevitable. The stampede. An innocent challenge-to-thought is seen as a direct and wounding blow to the other side. Is received as either condescending, misguided or in other (more wounding) cases, inferior and uneducated. Every time this happens, I get this feeling inside. It’s not anger. It’s not irritation. It’s not pain. It is simply emptiness. The kind of emptiness that reveals itself as disappointment. Disappointment because when you are placed in a situation that encourages talking and thinking and challenges, you are still forced to stay silent. Disappointment because no matter how hard you try to be respectful of everyone else, of their thoughts, of their beliefs, you know you are never going to receive the same back. Disappointment because you know that you have to pick the right time and the right place to pose these kinds of cognitive challenges but you also know that no one will ever be pleased with your selected time or place, no matter how seemingly reasonable. Disappointed because in a  moment of complete desperation to overcome the discomfort inside you, you do the one thing that will bring you to an even higher state of discomfort, opening every back door to every form of fear residing within the idea of confrontation.

It is one of the most crushing things to have my kind of analytical-mindset mixed with my heightened fear of confrontation. But at the same time, I suppose my fear is a blessing. Because from one bad experience to the next I am consistently reminded that it’s not worth it. My food for thought is not worth the trauma and the discomfort that its voicing brings. No matter how carefully I phrase something so that I can shape it later, if I have to, to make everyone else happy… No matter how much I sit back and analyse a situation before I even consider voicing a contrary thought… No matter how much discussion is encouraged, it is never worth it. It is never worth that crushing feeling. That loss. That discouragement. That complete and utter emptiness. The accusations that you are there to start an argument, to belittle someone else or to make some kind of point just to be contrary.

My ideas on many things are unconventional. My views on many things are vastly open, carefully justified and immensely understanding with regards to other, more conventional trains of thought. I suppose that is all that needs to be known. As long as people understand this, I need not move to specifics. And I know now, that I will do my best in every situation to avoid specifics. Because it is not my intention to judge nor to hurt. Nor is it my desire to be judged or to get hurt.

In typical Alice fashion, I will round this blog off with a nod towards the reason I started blogging in the first place. I have always said that there is brilliance in everything. The big, the small, the happy, the otherwise. I suppose there is brilliance in this too. Because as wounding as it was and, in fact, still is, I learnt something and I helped others to see something maybe a little bit differently. Even if it didn’t go too well, it was still an experience worthy of acknowledgement and further pondering. That, to me, makes it brilliant.

That is all from me
Be happy
Be thoughtful
Stay brilliant

– Alice