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In Case of Fire, Grab Cat, Passport and Hunk of Volcanic Rock
Seven years ago, when all the lights went off in New York City, I did not assume, as the rest of the world did, that we were dealing with a multistate blackout. I thought we were being attacked by terrorists, who had knocked out the lights so that they could move on to the next phase in their plan. Accordingly, I threw on my flip-flops and grabbed my laptop, my mother's pearls, a jar of peanut butter and my dog, Leonard.
I was panting. The dog was wheezing. I held up my backpack in triumph. We had peanut butter, pearls and a computer to live on!
My husband sighed. "At least we know what you'll take in case of a fire." He, of course, would have taken our social security cards and birth certificates and other practicalities such as his shoebox of high school cassette tapes for which we have no tape player.
It turns out that we are not that unique in our understanding of what's really important. The new site The Burning House documents what people worldwide would grab from their homes in case of a fire. The objects are arranged and photographed, creating surprisingly intimate portraits.
The loveliest are poetic mixes of antique keys and beloved books. But a shockingly huge amount of people included their Mac laptops, passports and pets. Other quirkier items include an antique British maritime crest, a volcanic rock from Mt. Kilimanjaro and a "coconut broke with my head." One practical guy included a cast-iron skillet (presumably to cook food?) and a bottle of musk (to disguise body odor)—apparently confusing running out of a burning house with running out of burning house into a survivalist world without showers or restaurants.
Kids, of course, understand what's really crucial. Six-year old Brody grabbed his Garfield cup, his Lego helicopter, a bumblebee Transformer and a yellow belt (via FlavorPill.com).