Actually Packing

When I actually start to pack, with serious intent, I start to realise that I’m actually going on this trip.

I’ve always been slightly terrified of packing, leaving it to the last minute where possible. If anything, I’d love it if someone just packed everything for me and set me on my way. The reason for my terror is simple: packing puts it into context. “It” being everything – when you’re packing, you’re basicaly bringing all your posessions together, eliminating the optional extras and bottling the essence. This is especially so if you’re going for more than a week or two – a week lets you pack a simple set of things you may need over a week. Going for well over two months like I am, if I’m missing something I need 4 weeks down the track, it’s not going to be there.

You just don’t think about these things usually, because they’re right there. Your life is spread throughout your house, your neighbourhood, your city.You pack everything you think you need, and it’s a statement: This Bag Contains the Essentials of My Life, of Me.

Fitting it into one bag can almost be belittling, like saying “My essentials are just this limited.” Everyone likes to think of themselves as a complex person, and the non-perishables you pack define your identity in so many ways. A simple thing like choosing which jacket to take; at home, you’d step outside, realise you have the wrong jacket, and swap it. On a trip, you’re hundreds, thousands of miles away from that other jacket which would be perfect right now, but you can’t do anything about it.

You can’t pack everything, if just out of sheer practicality. You’ll reach your destination, and reach for that thing… that thing that you thought, thousands of miles away, that you won’t need.

I don’t know quite why, but it’s simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying each time I go to pack.

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