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What would you bring? Empathizing with hurricane victims

Emma Kinghorn, guest columnist

The first day of class. It doesn't change much, whether you're pulling out a Crayola 64-pack or an Intro to Business Law novel out of your backpack, you're about to hear the same basic spiel.

"Good morning, I'm teacher ______. Welcome to ______ class. Let's get to know you all of you now!"

There it is. The Icebreaker. The universally dreaded, monotonous, there's-nothing-fun-about-me, activity. The worst part? No one really learns from these exercises, or remembers all the names, except for that one girl in the back corner that tells everyone about her jet-setting, my dad is a CEO and my mom a Brazilian bikini model who doubles as a Russian spy, childhood. And her name is probably something exotic.

If you're lucky, you can skip the fun fact, or the adjective that starts with the same letter as your name round, and jump to an easy question. It goes something like this:

Your house is on fire, and you can grab three things. What are they?

Photos. Blankie. Passport. Car keys. Dogs. Cats. Chinchillas.

It's almost too easy, when you think about what you want. But, what about what you need?

Your house is on fire, and you can grab what you can carry. What do you need?

In the past two weeks, over 100,000 Americans answered this question for themselves.

And weeks after, they have to live with their choices. In an article by Stephanie McCrummen of The Washington Post, various evacuees tell their game-time, water-rising, what do you bring moments.

Some did take their dogs, others, their medicine or health care papers. Books, shoes, toothbrushes, a vape. The things that people grab in that moment seem so trivial, and so deep at the same time.

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I've found myself thinking about this question for over a week now. What would I do? What can I not live without? When sitting in a shelter, far away from home, what would I want in my hands?

Where would your mind go, if you could grab only a handful of things? What items would summarize your life, who you are?