If you live along a tectonic fault line, it’s a good idea to show the planet who’s boss by packing a backpack of Band-Aids, canned tuna and an extra T-shirt and storing up some water in your basement. Also, get a wrench so you can turn off your gas line. That wrench is going to make all the difference when the earth starts shifting beneath you.
Ah, little humans.
Being one of those humans and, among them, probably on the high end of the liking to be prepared for things you can’t control, I have been planning my Go Bag for several years. Not packing. Planning.
I think I can say with reasonable confidence that I have an alarmingly comprehensive master list of “essentials” for every manner of emergency. I have considered chemical attacks, virus outbreaks and nuclear fallout, in addition to your basic fire and earthquake. I have looked up pricing for personal parachutes. Even though our house only has two stories, we are a flight of steps up from the street, so it seemed prudent to check. I’ve compared iodine tablets that clear drinking water to iodine tablets that counteract radiation. (Sadly, these are not the same product, so you will have to get both. Unless your drinking water is really, really dirty.)
I didn’t actually buy any of these things, mind you, I just researched them to add to my giant Spreadsheet of Terrible Possibilities. I’m not a complete idiot. I’m just worried.
So the spreadsheet sat there and then grew and then sat and then grew and so on until not too long ago when, without consulting it, I filled an old Gap backpack with a pre-made First Aid kit I got from Target, some granola bars and a rain poncho and put it in my garden bench on our deck where it promptly got soaked and molded.
That didn’t so much work out as an emergency plan.
It’s notable at this stage that, despite having a thorough, well-researched, printed checklist of all the things that should be in a Baby Go Bag when you are finally ready to head to the hospital, I did not actually have said bag out or packed when I went into labor. So this is kind of a thing with me, apparently.
Now that we live in a house, I have more room to expand on my Giant Spreadsheet of Disaster and have collected, at last count, four evacuation bags. One has food, one has clothes and baby stuff, one has tools and medical supplies, and then there’s a pile of water. A pile of containers of water to be more exact. Piling water is a waste of time.
There is also a small heap of tools that don’t fit in that bag. And there’s still a list of things I haven’t packed, like copies of essential documents and a T-shirt for R. who, should something happen right now, will be going shirtless. He’ll be like that hot guy on Lost who never seemed to have a shirt handy. He made it through our having-a-baby hospital stay in hospital scrubs though, so he should be OK. I mean R. should be OK, not the guy from Lost. That would be weird if that guy were hanging around the hospital the whole time we were there. And by “weird,” I mean “weird and flattering because, let’s face it, that guy is really, really good looking.”
I considered digging a bunker/irregularly shaped hole/ditch in the backyard to house all my Stuff of Calamity but I like our garden, so instead I’ve scattered the four bags in four different places throughout the house so it will be highly improbable that they will all be accessible in an emergency. My thinking is that it will also be unlikely that all of them will be inaccessible, so, “Mwaha!” to all of you who thought that it was stupid to split them up.
Now, after six years, I’m within reaching distance of the over-prepared finish line, and I’m having some second thoughts.
First, what if the lack of an earthquake so far in my tenure in California is because I haven’t finished my evac bag? Finishing might be the cue for the pending earthquake to strike. What if all these mini earthquakes we’ve been having are just, “What’s up with that Go Bag, Carlson?” reminder quakes and when I finally finish, I am inadvertently inviting disaster?
Here’s where I’m coming from: I was supposed to pack my Baby Go Bag for the hospital the week A. was born (a month before her due date). Maybe she arrived early because the universe sensed a packed bag on the horizon. (I ended up taking several pairs of socks and a bag of jellybeans to the delivery, which worked out fine because it was Easter that weekend and who really needs pants anyway?)
This theory might be excessively self-involved, so I’m trying to table that concern.
Things could go the other way after all. What would happen if there were an earthquake TONIGHT before the bag is complete? I have some time set aside tomorrow to finish up the packing. An earthquake tonight would be be the ultimate ironic game changer. I’d be out on the street – correction: in a doorframe/under a sturdy table – watching an unmounted bookshelf fall towards me without a copy of my most recent tax documents in my hand. Silly Emma. No potassium iodide. No parachute. Scanning my spreadsheet and realizing I don’t have tent stakes, that document would exist solely to mock me. Perhaps I won’t enclose a copy among my emergency papers and hope to survive in the coming wasteland on my wits alone. And a bottle of Similac Extra Sensitive, which I will share with my daughter and my shirtless fiance while I use my crowbar and ecologically sensitive plastic camping fork to dig out my First Aid Bag.
These are not cheerful thoughts. Perhaps I’ll go finish up that packing right now to catch the plates off-guard, and I’ll leave out one thing, just to keep the universe stable. I think I’ll “forget” the wax-dipped matches in a waterproof container and rely on a gas fire to toast my marshmallows because who knows how to to turn off the gas line even if you do have a wrench?
I might have forgotten a couple of things after all.