Saturday, July 15, 2006

Sunday Scribblings #16: "With Baggage"

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.

For more Sunday Scribblings, go here.


~Kathryn~ said...

moving across the other side of the world - i don't know that i could leave my 'baggage' - i am a true hoarder of 'stuff' that means something to me .. i can't bare to let it go

bonnie said...

Well written! I wish I could travel as light as you. I still love my books and cart many of them around. If we could all travel light like you, there would be no stiff shoulders and hurt backs, and we would let go our emotional baggage, as well.

tara dawn said...

I should heed this advice, wise I long to simplify my life and yet I cannot seem to let go...too many memories, too many thoughts and feelings and precious moments that I allow to tie me to material silly it is when I really think about it.
I admire that you live with so little, such simplicity...
Great post!
Love to you!

John Tran said...

I love travelling light as well! There is no feeling like freely moving from one place to the next (and smirking at all the folks in the baggage claim areas).

I will have to remember those places and things in England you mentioned when I visit some point in the future.


Susannah said...

"it is much easier on the back, the legs, and the soul to travel light" - god, how true this is my love. letting go of things, be they possesions, worries, fears, whatever, leaves us free to fly, to go places. i loved this post - and you x

Susannah said...

ps. i've always fancied living in Bath - it's lovely isn't it x

alyndabear said...

Hi Megg,

As much as I cannot wait to eventually move overseas to live (I have been planning it for years - the day will come!), I think the hardest thing for me will be to leave some baggage behind. Emotional AND physical!

Your post has reminded me that it's possible. :P



Kamsin said...

I can totally relate to this. I can remember being limited to one bag and a 20kg weight limit when I was heading for China for a year. I've packed and repacked my bags several times since then. I'm pretty ruthless, soooo much gets left behind. But I learnt pretty quickly that most of the stuff we surround ourselves with is not really necessary for day to day life. I've also left behind lots of books in various places, I have to tell myself I'll almost certainly never read them again. I remember once trying to leave a book on a plane that I'd just finished, it was rather thick and wouldn't fit in my hand luggage, but kind helpful people kept pointing it out and wouldn't let me "forget it"!

Anyway, by the sea in Devon, I'm so jealous, although I prefer Dorset. Hope you're having a glorious sunny weekend! And thanks for visiting my blog!

Gemma said...

Eveything we need is already here(where-ever you are), why bring extra? 'Travel light' is great motto.

Tammy said...

Very brave to move so far on your own :) It was a good thing indeed.

Madeleine said...

How true that lst comment is on soo many levels!!
letting go of 'stuff' is a freeing experience.

loved this post.

sounds like you had a wonderful time travelling the UK with you friend, something i've never done and i was born here! i have no excuses.


Colorsonmymind said...

From pack rat to light heart.
What tremendous growth!

Laini Taylor said...

I completely agree, Meg, that traveling light is the way to go! On short trips I've managed that nicely, but on some of our longer trips it became truly ridiculous the amount of stuff we brought (several camers, folding stools for sitting down to draw a cathedral, plus all the art stuff, plus books... egad), and the stuff be bought. We have photos of ourselves after 6 weeks in Bulgaria, Turkey and Italy, finally on our way home laden with Turkish bedspread, Venetian masks, and many bazillion other things! People stared at us on the streets. It was really ludicrous.

lisrobbe said...

I am going through the transition of leaving a world where I was a semi-packrat. Though I have always manged to keep that out of my travle life and travel lightly. And these days who wants to spend hours at the airport with the possiblity of getting searched because you have way too much.

Ali la Loca said...

Yes, travel lightly!

I got rid of so much STUFF before moving to Mozambique. The problem is, I'd already gone through the process years before when I moved to Brasil. I vowed then that I'd never accumulate things again to such an overwhelming level.

I can't seem to live by my own words!

I travel light, then once I"m in my destination I go about making my home beautiful. I buy furniture, paintings, wall hangings. I buy new clothes and jewelry. My closet grows and my home fills up. And then I have to move again!!!!!

Seems to be my never-ending cycle.