If I could use one phrase to describe myself in the past I would have said, 'pack rat.' I have posted before about my love of stuff. I used to be a lot worse. Papers of all kinds, quotes, books, mugs, jewelry, more books, and memorabilia - lots of memorabilia - still stuff the corners of the closet (and the shelves) in my old room in my parent's house. It's not that I love the stuff exactly. I think I am addicted to memories. I don't keep anything that doesn't matter to me.
So when I was packing up to move to the UK for the first time, I was in a bit of a state. I was moving with no money, no plans, no place to live and no final date. I didn't know what job I would be doing or where I would be doing it. Packing just one bag was a difficult job. Going off into the wild blue yonder was such a stretch for me. I knew that I would need comfort. Even in the middle of the deepest darkest adventures, I think that people need touchstones. When you can only pack one bag, how much of it needs to be necessary things and how much of it can be nostalgia?
So I left for England with a densely packed knapsack and ended up (after three nights in a London hotel booked by my Mom!) moving to the coast. I realized quite quickly that I am not a backpacker. I needed to live in a place for awhile to get to know it. So I unpacked my bag. Nine months later my friend Jayne came and we travelled around the UK. I packed up and we went on a wonderful adventure. We hunted for Puffins on Orkney and played Pooh Sticks in the Hundred Acre Wood. We stalked Shakespeare's house, did some stupid things in Edinburgh and marvelled at the architecture in Bath. And every time we stopped I emptied my bag of something. The more you move around carrying baggage, the lighter you want it to be. As my first trip came to an end, I returned home much lighter than when I left.
Several trips back and forth later, I am now living in that same little village I started in. Except for my laptop (my pride and joy,) pretty much everything I own could still be packed into a couple of suitcases. I travel much lighter these days. In fact, if it's possible, I carry-on. I don't know that I have changed that much, I just realized somewhere along the line that it is much easier on the back, the legs, and the soul to travel light. I still have that cache of memories and treasures (and books - never forget the books) stowed away in my childhood closet, but the grown-up me has decided not to add much to that pile. Baggage, you see, is really really heavy. Travelling light is the only way to go.
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