The Packing Problem

I’ve been back in California since Wednesday, somehow.  Therefore, I really can’t comprehend that it’s already Sunday night.  I leave for Italy on Thursday eeearrrrrrrly.  The real question is: What on earth have I been doing?  Answer: Thinking deeply about truly essential things such as, how many pair of boots should I bring…? Is five too much?  Yes, yes, too much.  But I can’t really decide which ones, so I’ll move on to jewelry.  And skirts and dresses and jeans and sweaters and and and. This is ridiculous and self-indulgent.  I feel like this whole packing undertaking should be much easier than my Peace Corps preparation.

During the month after I graduated from college, packing for Peace Corps was my full-time job.  I really don’t think that I did anything else except packing and unpacking, organizing everything in individually labelled tuperware and plastic bags, weighing my bags every other day to make sure that I hadn’t gone over my alloted weight limit.

I’ve actually had more time to pack for Italy, but haven’t spent nearly the same amount of time as I did for the two years in Cameroon.  Of course, this makes sense.  In Italy, you can easily find shampoo and you probably won’t offend anyone with your typical American attire.  Also, Italy is only one year instead of two.  Nevertheless, I still find myself sitting in the middle of my bedroom floor, loathe to pick anything to bring.  This is not because I am worried that I won’t be in style or whatever etc. etc., but rather because I have only recently emerged from “the jungle” and have excavated all of my old possessions, many of which completely escaped my memory until they were dragged out of the garage.  This could be because I packed up my apartment the day after my grad night superparty, couldn’t see anything through my headache, and haven’t opened anything since.  Now I’m leaving again and have to rebury many of my discoveries.  I can’t (and don’t want to) bring everything I own to Italy.  However, at this point I wonder if I will ever be in a place with all of my possessions surrounding me like one big, happy family.  These beautiful wonderful things include a turntable and records, wooden shoes from Amsterdam, paintings and masks from Cameroons, and even replaceable things like kitchenware and the rest of my far too expansive wardrobe.

Believe me, my hemming and hawing and mourning and sighing makes me constantly question my apparent reliance on THINGS.  It seems that even if I travel somewhere with next to nothing of character (like I did when I went to Cameroon), I must immediately acquire things to make me feel at home and remind me of where I am and what I’ve done.  This seems all well and good, until I return home with my new loot and add it too the pile of old.  I’m decorating houses in 10 different countries and dressing myself for 50 different activities and buying souvenirs for 100 different people.  I can’t shake the memento.  And now, as I pack away all of the things from college, I’m adding things from Peace Corps.  Away again, for another year at least, until I come back and pile on more.  This needs to stop? I am addicted to tangible memories and can barely pack a suitcase.

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~ by Emilie on August 17, 2009.

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