“Travelling carries with it the curse of being at home everywhere and yet nowhere… for wherever one is -some part of oneself remains on another continent” (Margot Fonteyn) I leave a little bit of my heart behind each time I pack up and move.
Before graduating high school, I had lived in 9 different houses in 8 different cities, on 3 different continents. I feel most “at home” when I am travelling.
But travelling comes at a price. I mean, you know, aside from the physical price tag.
I’m talking about the mental price tag – the price of packing up and moving.
Packing up and moving sucks much more than you think it does. Really. It does. And here is why:
1. It is mentally exhausting to sort through your life and prioritizing your belongings
How do you choose between two childhood keepsakes when neither will fit in your luggage? Most of us are fortunate enough to have a “home base” to store our belongings – but this time around, I don’t have a home base.
I am in the last week of packing to Japan – with the knowledge that if it is not in a bag, it is going to Goodwill. Ryosuke already brought three bags to Japan with him (he’s such a sweetheart and just loves to put those large muscles to use). Five bags is a lot.
But my life cannot fit into five bags – never mind all of Ryosuke’s stuff. Don’t even get me started on all our wedding gifts. It is mentally exhausting trying to sort through my life and prioritize what matters more – the sentimental picture frame I got from a family friend or those functional running shoes?
2. Airlines only allow you to bring two bags.
Between shoes, clothes (summer, fall, and winter), medicine, and books, there is little to no room for all those extra goodies you wanted to stash away.
Can anyone actually pack up everything they might possibly need for the next five to ten years in two suitcases? Because I can’t. And yes, I have met those world travelers who have been living out of a single suitcase for six to either months. Those people are awesome. But I am not one of those people.
I need more than one winter jacket. I like to have several pairs of heels. Rotating between four shirts just doesn’t cut it for me.
Sadly, my size 9 feet are too large for Japanese shoes. Anything I’m going to wear in the next five years is packed in one of those five suitcases (work shoes, sneakers, winter boots, high heels, etc)
3. You have to decide which is more important – the scrapbook your best friend from high school made you or those two dressed you got on sale at Forever 21 that make your legs look great.
There is no right answer.
4. Dust. Dust everywhere.
Why is everything so dusty? I use these clothes every day. I don’t understand. How does dust get inside a book? I swear there is dust inside my book.
5. Are four pairs of jeans really necessary?
No. But all four of them are different colors and styles. So yes, four pairs of jeans are actually necessary. Don’t judge me.
6. What about that blanket your grandmother quilted you when you were in middle school? It takes up almost a fourth of a suitcase, but your grandmother quilted it for you.
And it’s a really nice blanket. Very comfortable and warm. But it also takes up nearly a fourth of a suitcase. Instead of bringing that quilted blanket, you can bring four pairs of jeans, the book Ender’s Game, and that scrapbook your best friend made in high school.
See what I’m talking about? This prioritizing thing is hard.
7. Why do you have three black sports bras? Really. Why.
Because I left one at a friend’s house and replaced it. But the replacement wasn’t that comfortable, so I bought a new one. And then six months later, my friend returned the sports bra.
So now I have three of them.
I should probably Goodwill two of them.
8. No matter how well you prioritize and pack, you won’t be able to fit everything in on the first try.
Unless you are a super-human packer, it will take a couple tries to fit everything into those two suitcases. Instead, you just have to prioritize what you need/want the most, pack that first, and try not to cry when you can’t bring that blanket your grandmother quilted for you, those two dresses from Forever 21 that make your legs look great, and the scrapbook your high school best friend made you.
It never fits in the first time.
9. Which means you have to re-pack (again)
Packing is somehow worse the second time around. You’ve already purged the “easy” stuff (books you didn’t particularly like, old clothes, Christmas gifts you never particularly liked)… and now you have to purge the “hard” stuff.
And, of course, physically pull our everything you’ve already packed to see how important it actually is.
10. All of that lifting and moving of suitcases and boxes will make your back ache for the next three days
If you have a husband on hand, make him do the heavy lifting. Instead of dealing with a sore back, you only have to deal with him complaining about a sore back for the next three days. In my opinion, that is a much better deal (sorry hun).
Sore backs are the worst.
In Conclusion: All of that packing, Goodwill-ing, storing, and throwing away can induce a panic attack in even the most sane and well-rounded individuals
Sadly, I am not the most sane or well-rounded individual, which means every time I pack up and move to a foreign country, I have serious problems packing. I like stuff. More specifically, I like my stuff – especially my clothes.
And yes, I know that I have too many clothes (girl problems). But I can’t bear to throw away any of my clothes because I have this weirdly selective memory. I remember where I bought that dress in the back of my closet. I remember feeling depressed because I had failed another Japanese exam and worried about wedding stuff. I remember trying on that dress in the back of the crowded thrift shop in Nakano and falling in love with it. I remember buying it, running to the bathroom in the train station, changing into the dress, and biking home. I remember feeling fantastic.
It’s not just throwing away (or donating) a dress – it is throwing away a memory.
And I’m not ready to do that yet. I need my memories.
Which is why I’m bad at packing. And why I think that packing up to move to a foreign country sucks more than you think it does.
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