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.
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:
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?