Friday, March 28, 2014

My Packing List

When I left Minnesota, I was lightweight. Light from dropping off the last bits of a heavy heartbreak, light from selling all of my furniture and light from fitting all that I needed into a suitcase, a backpack and a carry on bag. I took off with my one-way plane ticket running that muggy August day, off and away towards the ocean. I hope that in some way I feel the same relief of the weight of my possessions when I leave California, but only time will tell for sure. I only have a 4-door '98 Volvo, which is much more space than when I came West, but probably less space than I anticipate - how much will I really be able to carry?

Then comes the actual packing of the backpack which I will take across Europe for at least six months. I've started to make a list, hidden in a google doc that I steal away to from time to time and think about all the things I want to bring with me. I've done research on the "best way to fold your clothes" "how many articles of clothing do you really need for an around-the-world trip" and "must haves for the fashionable female traveler" but in a lot of ways, I'm waiting so badly for the time to come when I can actually begin rolling up the wrinkle-resistant clothes and go for it.

What can I carry on my back and what will I leave behind?

Slowly, I've begun to slip my fingers into the ground, find the pathways these roots have grown into and begin to pull them forth from the earth. I've found - and I should not be surprised - how many roots I've grown here which I did not expect. I've been touching the sorts of soil and memories I had happily ignored until it was time to leave. I've been finding deep deep holes of love and emotion I was not prepared for in this dry soil of the foothills in California. I've always known this would be a hard transition and that I could not rip these roots from the ground, but we're honing in on 2.5 months left and there are a lot of things still to do.

I feel like I'm suspended above my emotions right now - looking down at the transition I'm going through and wondering why I'm off kilter. So much is so good. But there's no point in trying to understand the way life is pushing and pulling tonight. I accept that this place is one I don't need to understand and let time move around my fingers like a river. I'll be swimming in the current, my hair being tugged and tangled again soon enough. Coming in and out of focus and riding waves to and from high tide is a part of life, another thing to embrace and lean into. So I'll try to stop digging my fingers into opening the door to happiness for now, and allow myself to sit with my dear friends, eat good food, look up at the mountains when the sun shines just right. Collect the joy and the sadness like pebbles in my pockets, carry them in the seams of my clothes.

For now I'm plotting out maps, highlighting a guidebook, finishing up the packing list. My bag is ready, I just need to wait a little more before I can pack it up. And there are so many lovely people and places here, I'm happy to do just that.

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