You know how people say, “The house could have been burning down and I still wouldn’t have noticed…” Well, I didn’t say it, my friends, I lived it.
Last month, on Saturday, June 2, I spent the afternoon working on my new middle-grade novel and I was in the zone. Deep, deep, deep. Yes, I heard sirens and the whirring blades of the helicopters, but did they register? No. No, they did not.
The fifteen years I spent living in NYC had dulled my senses to those sounds. The fifteen years I spent writing and blocking out distractions, dulled them even further. So, it literally took a call from the police, followed by a megaphone announcement outside my house to let me know that my hood was on fire and I had to evacuate immediately.
While my neighbors stuffed their SUVs with photo albums, passports, non-perishables, clothes, and tax documents, I grabbed my laptop, my dog, eye glitter and the two bathing suits I bought earlier that week because we all know how hard it is to find good suits. And that was it. I was out.
As I drove down the hill, oddly calm despite the bruise-colored smoke cloud building behind me, I realized that everything I owned might burn. And the weird part was, I was fine with it. Like, sociopath fine. I even got a tad self-righteous about it because I, Lisi Harrison, obsessive online shopper, had transcended materialism.
Cut to my recent trip to El Capitan. No, not the one in Yosemite. That place requires gear and an appetite for roughing it. This El Cap is an hour north of LA. Just off Pacific Coast Highway. It has cabins, indoor plumbing, a gourmet market, and s’mores kits. If ever there was a time to transcend materialism it would have been then. But no. For my two night stay, I brought: $200 worth of snacks,
three fold-up chairs, solar-powered lights, bug spray, hairspray, cooking spray, surfboards, beach towels, books, chargers, board games, essential oils, cold medicine (just in case), Ugg boots, sneakers, flip-flops, winter clothes, summer clothes, and a bunch of other clothes I never wore.
Does this mean that in a crisis I know what matters and what doesn’t, but day to day I’m a glutton who has fallen for the trappings of consumerism? I’d really like to unpack this a little more but an Ikea truck just pulled into my driveway. My new outdoor furniture is here.
Happy Fourth of July!! Happy belated Canada Day!!! God bless firefighters. Be good to each other. Pack light, but smart (then tell me how you did it).