16 January 2006


I think it is about time that I start considering the fact that I leave on Friday afternoon; and I have yet to place a single piece of clothing, bottle of cologne, or pair of socks into anything remotely resembling a suitcase. I did place a book in my satchel for the airplane ride, but then I took it out so I could read the first chapter. Bottom line--I haven't packed a thing.

I meant to start packing today. But I didn't think it would be very respectful task for the holiday. Not that going to the mall, exchanging bad Christmas gifts, spending gift certificates, sleeping, uploading music to my ipod, cooking dinner, or cleaning my room were any more respectful.

As you can tell, I'm not particularly in any kind of mood to pack. I am, without a doubt, ready to jump the pond, but I'm not looking forward to the formality of packing. Maybe I could just wear strategically placed layers and not have to pack. I know, I know, be realistic. But being realistic means that I have to pack 5 months and 3 seasons worth of clothes in 2 checkable bags and 2 carry ons, one of which is already taken by my manpurse (or, if you want to be trendy, my satchel). If I go over the 2 checked bag limit, I have to pay $25. Maybe its worth it this time--I might have to think that over.

And then, there is the concern of forgetting something. If you wear it all, then you know what you have. But the second you start shoving stuff into the the depths of nylon, it becomes overly easy to loose track of what you've already remembered and what you can't forget.

And trust me, I will forget something. I already forgot where I put my passport. Let me tell you. I nearly pooped my proverbial pants. Luckily I found it, along with all the rest of my important international documents, just where I had left them. Too bad it took me 3 hours to figure out where that was.

I so don't want to begin to pack that I cleaned my room today. For the third time in the past week. Now, this might seem normal to those of you who like to keep your rooms tidy and organized. But those of you who have lived with me can attest to my messy nature. My philosophy relies on the foundational concept that if I throw something in the floor, and leave it there, then I know exactly where it is--the floor. A dear friend of mine cleans her room constantly, claiming it is the one thing she can always control. I don't have such hang ups. But I do have a hang up about packing, so cleaning is one more barrier I can place between myself and the inevitable.

I think I'm avoiding packing because it seems to be so definite. How does one pack for 5 months? If only the lovely ladies below were here to help in my time of need!

In Phil Cousineau's book, The Art of Pilgrimage, the author writes of a hermit on a long winding road. Cousineau comments "On that long and winding road, it is easy to lose the way. Listen. The old hermit along the side of the road whispers, Stranger, pass by that which you do not love."

I asked some friends who had studied abroad before what they suggested I bring. They offered the same advice--Bring only what you need.

Right. Check. Now, to figure exactly what it is that I need.


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