A material girl traveling light

A material girl traveling light

I’m not a fan of travel. Or, maybe, I’m just a fan of staying home. Despite this, I’ve had the great privilege of traveling more than the average person. 

I’ve enjoyed just about everywhere I’ve ended up. I love hotel rooms. I love miniatures: miniature shampoo, miniature gin, miniature jam.

When I give myself the chance, I’m fairly adaptable and low maintenance. I don’t have to take a shower every day. I can drink just about anyone’s version of coffee. I don’t absolutely have to have wifi.

Still, the weeks before I travel are fraught. Packing is worse than a root canal for me. Truly, I’d rather have dental work than to pack. Making the choices packing demands is excruciating.

I have a very odd desire to pack framed photos of my family, to bring needlework and several thick hardback books. I’ll often pack several fountain pens, none of which can have ink in them until I arrive at my destination because of the air pressure in flight.

I want to bring several notebooks, as well as my computer, my iPhone and my iPad. I line up earrings and bracelets I haven’t worn in weeks to take with me. I fret over clothes. I used to always pack a special alarm clock.

My anxiety, I think, stems from being uprooted. I feel that I’m abandoning safety and walking into the world vulnerable, without the identity that these many things provide me.

I don’t really think of myself as materialistic, at least not in the since of acquiring lots of stuff. But I am very much a material girl, sewn to the Earth by the threads of things. Traveling forces me to snip those threads.

I’m on my way home from visiting my brother in Boston, and it’s been a wonderful trip. I’m never more relaxed than when I’m with him. My brother is my lighthouse. His presence makes navigating the world so much easier and so much better.

Coming to his house is easier than traveling just about anywhere else. When I arrive, not only are he and his partner waiting, so are books and cats and pens and paper.

Since I was traveling alone, I decided to only bring a carryon, which meant limiting what I packed. I knew I’d have a hair dryer and plenty of books at his house. I knew there would be sweatshirts and hats, should I need them. The added benefit was knowing that all I packed was in an overhead bin, just within reach.

I’m heading home today. I will see my husband and daughter, my dog and cats. All the stuff I left behind will be waiting on tables and desks and inside drawers. 

As is so often the case with my anxiety, the anticipation of what will be is much more challenging than living through the what is. I managed to pack only one notebook and only one paperback. I left behind the fountain pens and the framed photographs. It felt good to travel light.

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