We had a hurricane in New York City a month ago. Thankfully it ignored our apartment. There was some howling, some lashing of rain against our windows, and meanwhile the husband and I remained cosily indoors, shamefully attired in loungewear, with our two cats draped over one surface or another, eating stockpiled stores of “freak out food.”
On the news, all the talk of collateral damage, of collecting valuables into a bag marked “GO!”, along with the attendant forced assessment of priorities made me think of a game I played when I was little, called BOAT. The game went like this: I pretended that my bed, which sat high on top of some drawers and a deep cabinet – a captain’s bed fittingly, although I didn’t call it that at the time – was a boat. It was leaving any minute for a long sea voyage. I would never see my home again and I had to grab those things that were most important to me as quickly as possible, so that I’d have them to use or bring me comfort on the journey. I say comfort because most of what I threw onto the “boat” was stuffed animals and dolls – no clothes, no toothbrush, not even an orange to fend off scurvy. I guess in my urgency to leave I forgot all about the practicalities of a long sea voyage, though in this particular one – which I played out over and over – the practicalities never came up. That’s because all I did on the boat once it was full, once the imaginary foghorn sounded and a powerful wind began pushing me out of the harbor (the boat had invisible sails), all I did was sit. Or rather, bury myself underneath all the teddies and dolls and pillows and sort of…snuggle. Sigh. Stare at the ceiling (my starry sky) and wait. I imagined drifting out to sea with all my most valued and loved toys – who I considered animate, intimate friends – safely aboard and wrapped up comfortably with me.
What is most important?
That was the whole game.