Your house is on fire; all of the living creatures are safely out, you are fully insured, your important documents are all in a safe deposit box off-site. Without putting anyone at risk, you can save ONE item : what is it?
I thought this was interesting enough to post about myself. At the risk of cheating, I'm going to assume that I have my wallet and my car keys; these don't have much sentimental value, but without them the days after the fire could really suck.
I don't think that I'm very attached to my material possessions, but this question does make me think.
I would be upset to lose my cameras, but they are insured. I assume that my pictures, at least the electronic archive, are part of the "important documents" that are safely off-site. (I do have an offsite archive of my pictures, here at work.) If my pictures weren't already safe, my first choice would be the box of CD-Rs of pictures.
I would be upset to lose my paper music collection, but most of the songs that really matter I have in electronic form (nearly all of the pages of the filk book I take to cons are just a matter of printing out new copies), and of the stuff that is not, it would be very hard to pick one item. The Minus Ten and Counting songbook and the dot-matrix printout Misty Lackey gave me of her songs in 1980-mumble probably top the list.
I would be upset to lose my recorded music collection, but the most valuable individual recordings I already lost when the cassette case I took to the 1994 Worldcon was stolen. (That loss taught me to be careful with irreplaceable originals.) If I had to save one album, I guess it would be Cheap Hooch, because it's autographed by all 4 band members plus cover artist Erin McKee.
I would be upset to lose my art collection. The big Ed Reck in my bedroom, or Erin McKee's Spirit of the Forest in the living room, or the Corinna Taylor calligraphy of "Hymn of Breaking Strain" on my home office wall, would all be candidates, as would a number of smaller pieces and prints. Spirit of the Forest I guess would have to be the one piece of art I'd save.
I would be upset to lose my musical instruments, but even my 12-string, which I've played far more than any of my other instruments, is replaceable. The big reason to save it is that I'm not sure I could get an equally good guitar for what it's nominally "worth".
I have a honkin' big collection of Magic: the Gathering cards which would cost thousands to replace, but the only part I'd really be upset to lose would be one box of decks that I play for fun. When I was in the throes of the addiction, I would have put my best cards at the top of the list, but today, I don't have anyone to play against, so I don't think much about them.
My books are collectively very important, but I don't have any one volume that's terribly special. Probably the most significant is my first paperback edition of Ringworld (with the Earth spinning backwards) personally inscribed "to
There are other things that I would suffer some emotional pain over losing, but I guess if I can only save one thing it would probably be Spirit of the Forest.