Photo of a bright red Norwegian fire truck

What would you save in a fire?

That’s one of the favorite hypothetical questions of minimalist bloggers, don’t you find? What, amongst your hundreds or even thousands of possessions, would you actually save in a fire? Well, when two policemen pounded on our door at 4.30 am on Tuesday and told us to immediately evacuate our home all I could manage was to put on my coat and boots, grab The Poodle under my arm, and get the fuck out of there. It wasn’t our building that was on fire but one of the neighboring ones, but seeing as we live in one of the oldest areas of town where several hundred-plus-year-old wooden buildings stand wall-to-wall they weren’t taking any chances. By 5 in the morning more than 70 people were standing outside on the street, watching the fire and wondering whether we would have a home to return to by evening. I hadn’t even managed to grab my phone on the way out.

Communicationally challenged

Thankfully The Boyfriend had his phone and I managed to contact both my mom and my sister. I tried to contact my colleagues to let them know I was okay, but I didn’t know their numbers from memory and many of them were unlisted so I couldn’t look them up. Note to self: memorize the number of our reception desk for the next time I’m suddenly evacuated in my pajamas. I finally managed to reach a friend on Twitter, but by that time several hours had already passed. In the end we were unharmed, and so was our building. Everything turned out fine, and we got to return home nearly 7 hours after being evacuated.

Anyway, as I stood there and watched the firefighters put out the fire I ran through the following mental checklist:

  • The Boyfriend and The Poodle are safe: check.
  • Photos on Flickr: check.
  • Files in the cloud: check.
  • Insurance in order: check.

So what would I save?

And that was it. I didn’t manage to bring a single physical object with me out the door, and I didn’t care. Now, I’m not saying I wouldn’t care if our house burned down – that would be ridiculous, not to say horribly offensive to the poor people whose building was actually destroyed. I would be devastated and heartbroken, and I can’t even imagine what they are going through. But in that moment I was just relieved to be right where I was with my loved ones nearby. Couches and TVs and clothes can be re-purchased. Boyfriends and pets? Not so much.

(That said, you better be damn sure I’m documenting all my belongings for insurance purposes as soon as I can, because next time we might not be as lucky)

So that was my week: a fire scare that very nearly made me put my money where my minimalist-loving mouth is, and a reminder to never own anything that you wouldn’t be willing to leave behind at a moment’s notice at four o’clock in the morning. And to always have your insurance, smoke detectors and fire escapes in order.


13 thoughts on “What would you save in a fire?

  1. Nora says:

    Oj så skummelt! Jeg våknet en gang midt på natten av skriking og oppdaget at det brant i trappen i bygården min… Brannvesenet kom med en gang og alt gikk bra og vi måtte ikke evakuere men shit så redd man blir av brann. Tenker meg det er ennå skumlere i trehus-strøk i Bergen og når man må evakuere :/ Glad det gikk bra med dere og lille Kanutten!

    • Det gikk heldigvis fint med oss, men det var en veldig spesiell opplevelse. Jeg er mest av alt skikkelig imponert over hvor godt situasjonen ble involvert av politiet, brannvesenet og kommunen. Vi følte oss veldig godt ivaretatt hele veien, og alt gikk på skinner.

  2. That’s a very good question, especially with your first hand experience of actually being evacuated! I tend to agree with you, if such thing happened it would be the fiancé and the cat first. If I have time I’d get my violin because, well, it’s my violin. I could buy another one and if I don’t have time to snatch it I’ll replace it, but when you play an instrument several hours a week, it’s, well… it’s my violin.

    But I think you are pointing out something very interesting, and something I also feel: I don’t want to own things that I would care too much about and wouldn’t want to leave behind at a moment’s notice. This whole quality over quantity thing – involving saving for ages to get one half-rent worth of shoes or tee or knits for example – it always bothered me, this idea that I’d invest so much in an item. It would mean I’d be upset to leave it behind in a fire (or flood or whatever), if I save for a year to afford it. But it would also mean I’d be afraid to live in it (if it’s clothing) or use it (if it’s a tea cup) because it cost so much and can’t be replaced so easily. And I think that’s putting too much importance into one item. Of course the threshold of how much is too much depends on many factors (starting with income I guess), for me it’s more of a psychological threshold than purely financial one – I don’t want to feel like something I bought is too “precious” that I’m afraid to handle it or lose it, if it makes any sense.

    • Thank you for the thoughtful comment Kali! I definitely agree with you about the psychological threshold. We talk and write so much about only owning things that we truly love, but I think we should only do so up to a certain point. The second you find yourself tearing up over the thought of losing your wedding china or designer bag in a flood then you’ve gone too far with the lovin’.

  3. oof. so glad you and your loved ones are safe.

    i agree with Kali’s sentiment – it’s good to be able to ultimately ‘leave’ a possession. having an overly precious relationship with things inevitably clouds our perspective.

    that said though, having home/renter’s insurance is definitely a good thing!

  4. Pingback: Shopping Fast: Month 9 « Maja Huse

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