My Burning House

  • My Grandfather’s old French map of the Great Lakes
  • Handmade art from Kenya, given to me by a great friend
  • My favourite scarf, from a trip to Paris
  • A teddy bear made from a Hudson Bay Company seal coat that has been in my family since 1890
  • My childhood stuffed elephant
  • My MacBook, because it contains all my pictures, writing, memories
  • Three spiral-bound journals, my daily diaries starting the first day of my freshman year
  • Vintage French cake stand given to me by two of my best friends and my boyfriend, for my 20th birthday
  • A wooden jewelry box, made by my other Grandfather, and the pearls my Dad gave me for high school graduation (inside the box)
  • My passport
  • My scrapbook
  • My Swiss Army knife, given to me by my Dad for my 16th birthday
  • A bag from my mother’s trip to China
  • (My camera, used to take the picture!)

I was reading Yes and Yes this morning, and I stumbled across a brilliant website called The Burning House. It’s the answer to the question: What would you save from your burning house?; and it’s brilliant. Go have a gander, because everyone featured rescues very different, very personal things from the hypothetical fire, and it’s absolutely fascinating.

I adore this idea, because it really makes you re-evaluate what is truly important, what is really special, and what is honestly worth saving. I was so inspired by the website that I decided to do it myself, with my stuff, my life. But as I roamed my apartment, mentally scanned each item in my ‘inventory’, I realized that even the act of choosing is a very telling one. Fact was: I really wouldn’t save all that much.

All this crap that populates my shelves, my life? Most is utterly replaceable. Sure, I adore my book collection, but I can find copies of everything on my shelf at a local bookstore. My clothes, my shoes, my miscellaneous paraphernalia from my two decades on this planet – replaceable. What does this say about me?

The grand total of items I would save in a fire? Sixteen. 16 things. And even now, looking back at what I chose, I could probably pare it down to 14. Maybe even 13.

What about you? What in your life is irreplaceable? What would you save from your burning house?