“If your house was burning, what would you take with you?” A question posed by designer and photographer Foster Huntington of the The Burning House, and currently featured on The Anthropologist. This is a very heavy question for me. It brought back a flood of memories and experiences I’ve had with fire and loss. I was about 9 years old or so, sound asleep, when a fireman ran into my room to tell me that we must evacuate. There was a fire in my building. My mother and I scrambled to get out of the house but before leaving, I will never forget, she grabbed a stack of photo albums. She balanced as many as she could on one arm, grabbed my hand and ran down the stairs of our building. She actually had them in a closet by the door in case there was ever such an emergency. In that moment, I really internalized just how much my mother cherished her memories with us, her family. Nothing else mattered. It all happened so fast but that moment stood still. As we stood outside, watching our building, I remember feeling safe. I wasn’t afraid. It didn’t matter what was gone. Everyone who lived in the building got out safely. That’s all that mattered to me. Loss was a very familiar feeling to me already at this young age. A few years prior, my best friend had passed away in a fire in the middle of the night. The image of my teacher crying and the front page of the newspaper never left me.
I can’t say for sure what I would grab if my house were burning down other than my son and our pets. Come to think of it, every time I’ve entered a new chapter in my life, I box up the old and send to my mother for her store. I don’t keep it. Perhaps because I feel those memories will be safe with her.
The images above are not my belongings, but part of a spectacular series of photographs capturing sentimental objects that answer the question “If your house was burning, what would you take with you?”
If you could take three things, what would they be?
(Images: Foster Huntington via The Anthropologist)