Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Reflections on Household Inventory

When we left the house back in New Orleans, we grabbed all of the things that we usually grab when hurricane evacuation time comes around. These are things such as the cat, pictures, personal journals, important financial documents, and a few other things of an irreplaceable nature.

Now that disaster has actually struck I find myself at once thankful that we had enough foresight to take those things, and then I begin to think about the things that I didn't or couldn't take from the house. Things that I wish I had taken. It's funny the way that you can begin to place a hierarchical value on the various things you own(ed).

The big things are the least important to me, I've found. Furniture, televisions, stereos, DVD players, home decor, the possibility of loosing these things doesn't bother me too greatly. The items that I wish I could have taken are my collections: books, DVDs, knick knacks I've accumulated over the years. Of all of these, I think the books bother me the most.

And then there are the items which cannot be replaced that I did not grab. A manilla envelope in my file cabinet labeled "Stuff to Save." In that envelope I've got everything from silly little gifts that I've gotten over the years to newspaper clippings, to correspondence. Like the condom on a popsicle stick that Eleanor T. gave me, thinking it was actually a lollipop. Handwritten correspondence from my best friend Scott which waxes philosophical about the nature and wonder of beer and coffee and how much each makes you need to go to the bathroom. A Fruitopia bottlecap which a friend jokingly used to propose to me years ago when there was a ridiculous commercial on the radio for Fruitopia in which the protagonist thought he could do anything just because he had a Fruitopia cap. There are countless pages of handwritten correspondence from my Dad, even more from Lindsey and maybe a few pages from my brother. On my desk sits a small decorative box which Elise gave me when she came home from her first trip to Boston to look at schools there. Inside the box are two rocks, both also given to me by Elise. One is a rock from Jim Morrison's grave in Paris and the other is from a beach in Italy, I think. Next to that box on my desk is a small, orange rubber penguin that Lindsey bought around the time that we wanted to get engaged but couldn't figure out how we would ever buy a ring. She bought the penguin and proposed to me with it, forever earning it the title of "Engagement Penguin." A handmade picture frame that Scott made himself out of an incredible number of beer bottlecaps hangs on the wall above that same desk. A copy of Shome's poetry book and his Dad's novel, both printed in limited quantities sits on the table at the entrance to the house. All of these things I've saved over the years.

The good news is that even at this late hour (early hour on Wednesday actually) it still seems that our house is safe from the flood waters. The looters however are another story altogether. I can only hope that looters take very little interest in engagement penguins and personal correspondence.