Thursday, October 25, 2007


All this talk about evacuation plans reminded me of a story.

When I was in 2nd grade, Santa brought me a baby doll that I'd been in love with since the afternoon I saw her in the toy store. I remember the morning like it was yesterday. I walked in, discovered that she was under the tree, and immediately named her Joni. She was attached to me for the rest of elementary school. I carried her and cradled her like she was a real baby. I wrapped her up and took her to the grocery store and I imagined that everyone thought I must be carrying a real baby. I even made Mema babysit her when we went on vacation. I meticulously packed her diaper bag with one outfit and one diaper for each day. When I picked her up and realized that none of the outfits or diapers had been used, I reprimanded Mema for neglecting her. The next time Mema babysat, she was sure to change her clothes and diaper every. single. day. That doll was my most prized possession.

As an elementary student, when we discussed our family fire plans at school, I always imagined what it would be like to STOP. DROP. AND ROLL. while holding Joni, because I was not leaving my bedroom without her. As the years went on, even though I didn't really play with her anymore, she still had a prominent place on my window seat. My fire escape plan evolved into grabbing my Bible, throwing it into Joni's basket and leaving with those two treasured possessions.

This is the plan I carried in my heart even into college. I provided my roomies with much fodder for jokes since I insisted on having Joni with me at FCU. But, had we needed to escape a fire or other tragedy during those years, I knew exactly where she was at all times.

The summer of 1997 was a hot one in our town. I had just moved in to Honey's and my first house. We were putting the finishing touches on the wedding plans and in a few short weeks, Honey would get to move in with me. We were living through a streak of like 28 days of temperatures over 100 degrees. I had only spent one or two nights at the house, so I was still a little on edge about being in a new place alone.

About 4:00 in the morning I wake from a deep sleep to the sound of someone banging on my front door. I wrap my pink blanket around me (another childhood security item, another story, another time) since I didn't own a robe, and summon the courage to open the door. It was a fireman, dressed in full gear, mask and all, demanding that I evacuate the house and go down the block a few houses .

I was so shocked, taken off guard, and jittery that I explained that I just needed to grab a couple of things. I immediately went to one of the guest rooms, grabbed Joni in her basket, and picked up my Bible off the coffee table on the way out the door. I didn't try to get dressed, and I didn't put on any shoes. I just followed the fireman to safety and huddled with my half-awake, stunned neighbors.

Looking back, I realize that I looked like one of those people on TV. The one that they always find to interview for ABC World News Tonight. The one that isn't dressed, but wrapped in a blanket full of holes, grasping on to some treasured possession that seems ridiculous and totally non-practical. And barefooted. Aren't they always barefooted?

When the scary firemen got the fire in the storage shed across the street under control, we were allowed to go back to our homes, and the drama was over. It was like 5:30 by then and I decided that I couldn't go back to sleep since I was set to wake up in an hour anyway. So I called Honey. I just knew he would want to hear about his sweet bride-to-be's middle of the night scare. I imagined that he would rush right over and take me to breakfast in an effort to gently calm my nerves before we both headed to work.

After making sure he was awake enough to hear my story, I was completely offended when he laughed and said, "You went out there in your pajamas carrying that doll?!"

Let's just say, we had plenty to talk about at pre-marital counseling that night.


Cindy said...

Oh, I LOVE IT! I imagine you must feel like you accomplished something, having evacuated JUST as you planned! :)

We need a picture of the doll!!

jen at Conversations said...

Oh, yeah, and we got married in 1998 not 1997.

Mrs. Brownstone @ XBOX Wife said...

Ha! I laughed out loud reading this!

sshough said...

This year Sweet Doll wanted a CareBear party. My precious doll growing up was a FunShine Bear that my mom made for me. Brother had Grumpy Bear and we played constantly with them. And being at grandparents in the summer with scrap wood, we had the coolest play ground for our dolls! Well, I got FunShine out for decorations to set on the table. I was surprised how protective I was when the kids asked if they could play with her! (Yes, I know if you watch CareBears now FunShine is a boy, but in my world she is a girl!) Those are sweet memories!

Larissa said...

That's so funny! I can completely relate. But it's my pink panther named "pinkie" that my Mema bought me when I was three. I would have done exactly the same thing!!!

javamamma said...

Great story!

Mrs. Brownstone @ XBOX Wife said...

Hey! I tagged you - twice!

That's the first one. The second one is under "Headlines".

Hope you can play!

SJ said...

Oh girl! I'm completely rolling! I remember you telling us that story as newly weds but it is SO much funnier now! (Probably because we were horrified for you being all alone and getting evacuated like that.)

Now that I have girls of my own, what seemed to be a weird Joni fetish...I completely understand now. (Rebecca lugs a 3-foot PINK horse around *everywhere*...I should start preparing myself that it will go to college with her.)

I didnt know about the escape plan though...but if I had...

Sorry I made fun of you. (giggle, giggle)

And Oh! That blanket...if you could call it that! I noticed that it didnt make an appearance when I was there this summer. Was it in a shadow box hanging on the wall somewhere that I missed? Oh you just give me too much ammo!

Thanks for the belly laugh today! I needed it! Love you!!!

Laci said...

haha thats funny! I wish I'd know you were coming to FCU for the weekend! I would have loved to say hi!