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other recent LOUNGE articles:
o Office Space: home office makeover
o Green Scene: Indoor Herb Gardening
Album-cover CD Box
A Room of My Own
Fight the Chaos
Gallery-style Picture Hanging Tracks
o After School
Sew What?
o Curtain Time
Lazy Decorator's Bag of Tricks
Home sweet homes
Minor Makeover Miracles: Kitchen
CD decor

copyright ©1999-2002

burn baby burn 
how my house was destroyed and I learned to live with less 

by Bridget Huffine
| 1 2 3

Recently, I moved into a new apartment, and was thrilled to find that the living room closet was outfitted with adjustable shelving and wire drawers on gliding tracks. Imagine my disappointment when I did not have enough items to adequately fill said shelves and drawers. I didn’t even come close. My lack of "stuff" had jinxed me. In a society where shopping and spending is akin to eating or breathing, my inability to pack a closet with frivolous items made me feel freakish.

I'm not an advocate of minimalism, nor do I subscribe to Real Simple magazine. I didn’t wake up one Saturday morning and decide to de-clutter my life. Instead, my belongings were ripped away from me in a fire that engulfed my home three years ago. Two days before Christmas, I returned home to find my house burnt from the inside out, and all of my belongings charred or melted.

The night of the fire, I was pressed to go to the local Kmart and buy the items necessary to outfit my family of five for the next few days. I came home with:

  1. Five sets of sweats, in different colors and sizes
  2. A "family pack" of toothbrushes and a small tube of toothpaste
  3. One jumbo pack of tube socks

That's it. My family and I lived for three days in our matching sweat suits, tube socks, and whichever shoes we’d been wearing the night of the fire. We ate at Village Inn, shopped at the grocery store, and visited friends in our getups. No makeup, no hairbrushes, no jewelry.

It took a devastating fire for me to realize that my only true necessities are clothes, food, and shelter. In the days following the fire, my clothes were not from the Gap or Nordstrom's, my food was not from Spago, and my shelter was a room in a hotel with two beds for five people and four pets. It was the happiest time of my life. We spent Christmas morning telling each other what we had bought for one another, and the typical response was, "Well, that sounds like it was a great gift." We stayed up late watching movies together in our sweats, eating popcorn that the hotel staff had given us. Friends dropped by with boxes of toiletries, clothing, books, and snacks. The accumulation of stuff was starting again.

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