>I took an inventory of what I packed. Remembering the hell that was my arrival in Paris over a year ago, I aimed for light.
Clothes: 7 pairs of jeans, 14 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of shoes, 9 pairs of boxers, 11 shirts total, and 1 pair of glasses, no spare, no contacts.
Toiletries: comb, brush, toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, body wash, deodorant and shampoo/conditioner.
Movies: King of the Hill Seasons 2, 3, and 4 DVD The Simpsons Season 5 DVD, The X-Files Season 1 DVD, Aliens, Pulp Fiction, Dumb & Dumber and Rammstein: Live in Nimes.
Books: Already read—The Alchemist, Blood Meridian, Fight Club, When Will Jesus Bring the, Pork Chops, Brain Droppings, Misery, Ender’s Game, Moderato Cantabile, Man’s Search for Meaning. Unread– The War of Art, Parliament of Whores, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Genghis Khan: The Making of the Modern World, The 33 Strategies of War, The 48 Laws of Power, Me Talk Pretty One Day
Video Games: none. I planned on bringing Knights of the Old Republic, but it’s too engrossing.
Electronics: Laptop, 160 Gig IPod, Casio Exilim Camera
Electronic Accessories: Laptop power cord, headphones, IPod charger cord, Camera Battery charger, 2 Gig thumb drive, and Learn Chinese CD-ROM.
Miscellaneous: a pink highlighter, and a pen from Quality Metal Stamping, Henderson, TN.
Believe me, I went light on the books. If I had the room, I’d take a lot more than that.
Do you pack just enough to get by or what makes you feel at home? I’d say both. Home is a strange concept to me anyway. If we accept that the concept of Home is synonymous with Sanctuary (or close enough), then I have not had a Home in quite some time. I have had Places where I stay. Stay a little while, move on to the next place, rinse, repeat, but never dry.
After eleven moves as a kid and a semester abroad, I am a bit accustomed to leaving everything behind for awhile. It’s not easy, though. I don’t think it is easy for anyone. For a few rare cases, it is, but wherever you stay for awhile, you will find reasons to stay longer, and to leave these reasons is to risk losing them forever.
Everything changes. Everything ends. By changing, you postpone the end. By not changing, you beckon it to come. We change, but we change apart and meet again as strangers, our bond a flimsy one forged by memories and the hope that the present can match the past in our heads. The idealized past that is.
That’s what homesickness is: a longing for an idealized version of the past. You recognize the good parts, but instead of stopping there, you allow the good aspects to swarm over and consume reality, and as a result, you find yourself longing for times that were nowhere near as great.
You see it regularly. Not just in travel. Abused wives return to their husbands. A man goes back to a job he hates. You reaccept friends because of what they were rather than what they are. In travel, someone studies abroad and returns home early. Someone else doesn’t even get on the plane while another person feels the urge to go but silences it hastily.
It’s the idealized past. It’s their “reasons” for staying, that they transform into myths that propagate as truths. I am guilty of it too. And not just in travel, but in general. People allow things to tie them down, all centered around one feeling: fear. They fear suffering. In The Alchemist, an amazing book that I highly recommend to everyone, this quote sums it up perfectly:
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”
It’s hard to say. Hard to do. But worth it every time.
I sit and type this in Hodges Library. I left home for Knoxville on Thursday. It was early in the morning—a five hour drive between here and there now there and here—when we loaded up and I said my goodbyes.
My sister hugged me and told me she loved me. She appeared ready to cry, but she held back. I almost did, but I have the well-honed strategy of making nervous comments to conceal my feelings. I made one that I cannot recall, and hugged the rest of my family. As I stepped out the door, I looked back to her, and I smiled and waved.
I miss them already. It will grow worse, but it will not consume me. Others? It depends.