1 What Would You Take? | Traveling Light Blog by Travel Writer Colleen Friesen

What Would You Take?


This is a locator map of Sechelt Inlet and Sko...


I am writing this on-board the B.C. Ferries’ Queen of Surrey. We are en-route from our cottage in Sechelt to our apartment in Vancouver. Our pick-up is full of more stuff that we have determined needs to live in Vancouver, especially now that Sechelt is rented out from April to December. That sounds like we have lots of time to get organized, but in fact, we leave for Mexico in two weeks and won’t be back until mid-March.


Trail Bay, Sechelt, British Columbia, looking ...


We are the King and Queen of Schleppage. Of to-age and fro-age. Of here-age and there-age. Then again, mostly we just look like the Beverly Hillbillies. Remember the Clampett family?  ‘This here’s a story of a man named Jed…’

But throughout these little sojourns, I am learning some lessons in what I think is essential. It’s kind of funny as to what makes the cut. For instance, the bubblegum pink Buddha is, apparently, key to my quality of life for the next year in Vancouver, as is the collage picture we bought in Quebec.



Key, I’m telling you, absolutely key.

The cab of the pickup is stuffed with other utterly necessary items…a random pair of shoes, the perfect bathroom garbage can, a painting we bought in Florida. These are probably not the things I’d grab if we were fleeing from a burning building, but still, they have meaning.

But I’m realizing too, that if I had to toss the works?  It might not be the end of the world.

What would you grab if you could only take five things from your house?

What is really truly absolutely important?

What can’t you live without?

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15 Responses
  1. Michele Peterson says:

    Wow, that’s big news! The move, that is…although the bubblegum pink buddha might be surprising to some. Me, I just cart large statues of Virgins with me from house to house – the heavier the better it seems. BTW You do have a hat waiting in Mexico and a buddha can be arranged. I just can’t guarantee it will be pink.

  2. Colleen Friesen says:

    Ya see Michele? I am leaving a trail of stuff…
    And I completely understand the need to cart around large statues of the Virgin. Still left behind in Sechelt is an entire altar shadowbox full of iconic figures, cards, rosaries and little statues. Other people might describe it as a glass-fronted medicine cabinet and perhaps they would fill it with toothpaste and toilet paper, but how much fun would that be? Not sure how I’m going to deal with all that yet…

  3. Karen Gamble says:

    Thank you for the challenge. I shared my favorite things in a gift exchange this Christmas. Really got me to think about what are my fave things to share with someone. And now I’ll decide what is most valuable of my “things”. Could make for Good writing material!

  4. Colleen Friesen says:

    Hey Karen. Glad you’re up for the challenge:)
    I think that most of the stuff I really love seems to be about the story attached to it; where we bought it, why, what else was going on in our lives at the time. I think when I get right down to it, the things that have become truly iconic to me are simply historical reminders; the ultimate souvenirs.

  5. Elinor says:

    As a clutter consultant, I have thought of that often, since I help people de-clutter and have hopefully learned a thing or two about attachments.
    In case of emergency, my passport (identification, travel ticket) and laptop (business records), get grabbed first. Other items I am not so clear about, but I do love my toy tractor I won around age 5 when I was with my dad at a Massey Ferguson day pancake breakfast.
    I actually think it would be both heart-wrenching and liberating. Think about all the things we would happily leave behind that are not the priority over health and happiness. That’s the potential clutter.
    Good luck with your partings.

  6. Colleen Friesen says:

    Elinor. If I had won a toy tractor with my dad at a Massey Ferguson day pancake breakfast, I’d grab it too. My favourite thing that reminds me of my dad is a replica of a Barkerville church that we made for an elementary school (maybe grade four or five?) project. It is out in the garden in Sechelt and slowly falling apart and rotting. I feel like that is kind of perfect.
    Sort of how the Haida G’waii believe that totems should slowly rot back into the earth rather than being preserved. I never used to understand that thinking, but now I do. Impermanence…

  7. Laurie says:

    Love the ‘King and Queen of Schleppage’, though I despair of ever getting up to Dakota Ridge snowshoeing with you, what with the toing and froing that seems to be mostly going from the Coast :)

    This reminds me of when I was on one of those ghastly but so effective personal development seminars. It was in Surrey at the Sheraton at 152 and 104th, near the freakishly big Canadian flag that can likely be seen from space. But, I digress.

    About 3 days in to the exorcism of personal demons, right when everyone (69 people and staff/trainers) was at their most psychologically fragile point, the fire alarm went off at about 1:30 am. It was like a klaxon! My roommate and I – gloriously well-suited to each other and still friends 8 years later – scrambled to get out of the room and down 17 flights of stairs. Leaving the room I gave one final exhortation to grab important stuff, selecting for myself my wallet, shoes, a light sweater, my phone and my dogeared notebook from the sessions.

    Sandy, on the other hand, emerged into the June overnight chill in socks and pajamas, clutching an apple. We still laugh about it to this day.

  8. Laurie says:

    Great sharing! I feel as I get older, it is the items that my father and I built together. He was very good at carvings with driftwood and woodwork, and I think those would be the first to go! Your pink Buddha is hilarious!

  9. Colleen Friesen says:

    Oh Laurie. The apple! Save the apple! Now. If that was an Apple computer, I might get it. But then again, maybe your friend Sandy was right on the money with her choice. Seriously. Enjoying the apple for what may be her last moment. Everything else be damned :)
    I must say, I am very impressed with your presence of mind and well-thought out list. What a great story.
    And yes, I’m sure that crazy flag can be seen from space. Must we be quite that flag-waving nationalistic about this thing?
    We Will Snowshoe. Yes. We Will. Just don’t know when or where. But we will…

  10. Colleen Friesen says:

    Laurie, I think it is the totemic items that remind us of good memories that become the key pieces. Especially good father & daughter moments :)
    As for the Buddha? It has two-parts; it was a gift from two people I adore & it makes me smile every time I look at it. Both those reasons put it on the top of the pile.

  11. Angie Mizzell says:

    I’ve actually thought about this… like if the house caught fire and I had time to grab things. My wedding album, the boxed-up wedding dress, my laptop (only because of the photos stored on it, and my plan is to put them all in the cloud, so then I could ditch the laptop), my grandmother’s ring. That’s only 4.

    But since we’re a family of 5, I suppose that doesn’t leave room for anything else. And I’m fine with that. The things listed above are probably the only material things that I would grieve over losing.

  12. Colleen Friesen says:

    Hey Angie, Good point about the wedding dress, though now that you mention it, I think I should give it to my great-niece while I’m still alive. I’m quite sure it would be beautiful on her and it’s not really a wedding-ish, so much as a flapper-style dress.
    Yes, on the laptop, though all my writing is stored in Dropbox, so I should be okay.
    Years ago, I lost my mother’s beautiful opal ring, so…back to not too much to grab again.
    Still, I love the ephemera that has collected around me, even if I wouldn’t necessarily grab any of it.
    I wouldn’t want to live in a sterile box. I feel somehow that my soul is reflected in these things around me.
    I love your list. It reflects well on your sense of history and how, and who, you love.

  13. mandy says:

    So funny that you posted this shortly after I’d made that list of 5! Since we are out of our house for a couple months in the winter, and because we heat with wood, I think of fire possibilities occasionally…I have made that list too–like Angie.
    1. Cash
    2. Computer/thumb drives
    3. Box of all the film pictures I have stored in the garage
    4. The cedar chest in the bedroom that my husband made for me
    5. Tom’s guns and our fishing poles.

    The rest is just stuff we could conceivably do without forever. Not that I want to have that fire and find out…

  14. Colleen Friesen says:

    Mandy, I love your list! It sounds like a pioneer/settler ready to start over. The cedar chest with money, photos, computer-held memories and the guns and fishing poles necessary to feed yourselves. I think you’re right that you could make it with that list alone :) But I agree with your sentiment that hopefully, we never have to find out for sure…

  15. Friday five – things to do in four days « a leap of face says:

    [...] wanted a pink buddha since seeing one on Colleen Friesen’s blog. While this isn’t a smiling buddha, it’s close enough for me – and I had a [...]

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