One Item

What one item would you grab if your home were to catch fire and you only had seconds to choose something? I’ve been asked that question but never given a definitive answer. Instead, I turn the tables and ask what the questioner would grab. In the heat of the moment, would we remember to grab that one item?

These hypotheticals make for interesting dinner conversation. We tried this question out the other night and when it was my husband’s turn my hand shot up to stop him from answering. I was so excited because I knew his answer.

 “You would grab your family crest ring (usually on his finger) and your Grandfather’s money clip (usually in his front pocket).” I exclaimed. “You’re right.” he affirmed.

How beautiful that his most prized possessions, the ones he would grab in a fire, he wears everyday. He wouldn’t have to think about it, he would already have them. Suddenly it was my turn and, still stumped, I avoided the question by loading the dishwasher.

My answer came a few days later. Cleaning our bathroom I knocked a painting off the wall. The glass shattered and the frame broke. I couldn’t believe it. How had I been so clumsy? I surveyed the damage and the print was unharmed; another errand on my list – get picture framed.

I stood at the faming counter evaluating the frame samples. The framer pulled at least a dozen for me to consider. As we narrowed the selection, amid our small talk, it slipped out. “This picture is so special to me. I know it doesn’t look like much but it’s the one item I would grab if my house was burning down.” I had surprised myself. It turns out I did have an answer to the hypothetical I’d been dodging.

Why is this item special to me? How does an item rise in importance: it’s associated with a memory, it’s subtly present, and it’s irreplaceable. This picture was my Grandmother’s and I remember its location in her house at the top of the stairs. It’s of a lady slipper and it reminds me of the time she took me into the yard to show me the illusive, wild orchid. To know my Grandmother is to appreciate that moment of deliberate intimacy: grandmother to granddaughter. When she passed away and the possessions of the house were being distributed, it was the one item I wanted. It was my connection to her and to that moment.

It’s been reframed and restored to the bathroom wall where I see it everyday. It’s my one item.

My One Item

My One Item

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