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Little cherry red Vintage suitcase with Cath Kidston Decoupage

I am a procrastinator. Big time, when it comes to packing.


It’s like I could do everything BUT put those darn clothes in my suitcase.

Packing baby A’s stuff is a breeze, it’s just my clothes, my shoes, my stuff…

We’re leaving for 4, possibly 6 months away and the day we leave is… hmmm, let me see, 3 days away, Wednesday!!! We’re going to be winter birds this winter, flying south, but instead of flying, we’re going to drive. Something that i’m both happy about – I am excited about the prospect of a slower arrival, a gradual inching toward warmer weather, not the sudden shock of trading the sitka spruce for palm trees. I imagine it will be good for us as a family, to be in our little cocoon of a car, driving toward California.

The part about it being a little cocoon however may be a bit of a problem. We have a VW Jetta TDI (runs on clean diesel) – we purchased this car after much debating about what would be the “greenest” car for us and decided on this one, which is i have to say, AMAZING on mileage and so great on long trips. Yet it is a Jetta, a perfectly normal family car in Europe, but here in North America, we’re against the grain. We don’t have an SUV, we don’t have a station wagon, and somehow we’re going to try to fit our surfboards, wetsuits, clothes, books and shoes for 4 months, maybe 6 in our little car.

I decide to allay worrying about this.

I go through the motions of “normal” life, you know cooking lunch and dinner, organizing, working on other writing projects, getting caught up with some paperwork…

All but the dreaded packing.

Meanwhile, my husband is measuring our bags and putting them in the trunk and in the ski box above, trying to map out the “most efficient” use of our finite space!

Today, the poor, exasperated man gave me an ultimatum. He used the “p” word.

“I’m taking A. to the beach and when we get back, I want to see some progress.”

Meanwhile, I take the opportunity of this well needed quiet time, to catch up on some emails. To call a friend.

Productive? Nah. But good for my soul, Yes.

But, then I realise, the time has come.

I fast-forward into super packing mode.

I pull out all the bags.

I make a list of all the categories of things we need to take.

You know, clothes, but what clothes. What’s a winter in Venice Beach, LA like? A few chilly nights for sure, right?

Yoga clothes, running shoes. Books, Cookbooks, my favourite slippers.

Dresses for the day, for the night, scarves, shoes, do I dare take heels, when would I wear them? I’m trying to find an imaginary balance point. I want to take just enough stuff so I don’t have to purchase things that I already own. That’s part of the conundrum. I’m trying to be mindful of purchasing clothing.  I only want to buy things that last a long time.  I’m trying to stay away from H&M (even the organic cotton H&M).

I begin to clean out my closet.

This results in two bags of things for the local thrift store.

This also results in not a lot of packing, but a lot of organizing.

I begin to get ruthless.

I throw out an old hoodie that someone gave me that I have yet to have worn, but the minute I put it in the to go pile, my husband (who has returned by then and was as duped as I was by my “progress” due to the chaotic spread of clothes and bags all over our bedroom); said, oh but that’s so “cosy” don’t you think you should keep it. I look at him, look at the item in question, have another realization – this is not the time for me to organise, I should be packing my bag, the one I have to put in our car. I must forget about the other stuff right now! So I leave that poor unloved sweatshirt back in the closet and get down to business.

But, at this point, I am stumped. Again.

Then it hits me.

This is my problem.

This is why I hate packing.

I hate narrowing down my options.

It’s like deciding on just one best friend instead of many.

It’s like saying no because you know you should, but secretly wanting to say yes instead.

I realize this fear of narrowing down my options stems from my inner belief of the “what if.”

The “what if” can be ideal when you are a mother.

It helps you pack not one, but three extra outfits for your child for a 5 hour car ride, or a two hour jaunt with a babysitter. What if?

Of course the one time you don’t, your child falls into a rock pool down at the beach on what happens to be the coldest day of the year. (Honest!).

The “what if” also allows you to guard that extra bar of dark chocolate in the hidden reaches of the pantry and keep the pair of skinny jeans from ten years ago in your closet.

It can be hopeful, it can be preachy, sometimes it can just be annoying.

I realize that I have to let go of the “what ifs.”

It may take me a while. I look at the size of the suitcase, spatially record its dimensions, then I attack the job once again.

This time, it’s all about editing. Editing words I understand, editing clothing is a whole other skill. Perhaps this packing job will be also all about de-cluttering, and junking all the stuff that has been weighing me down. Once I get started, I am energized. I take a break to feed baby Ananda his dinner and put him to sleep, but then I am back at it.

I realize that there’s a mantra to this.

It’s called “live simply.”

There’s no reason to feel a void.

The other day, I wrapped my baby up in my wool scarf and a blanket and stuffed him into the stroller without his pants or shoes on since he fell into the ocean and soaked his bottom half. I sang him songs the whole way home so he would stop crying. Somehow we managed, somehow it all worked out. We had a hot bath, got warm as soon as we reached home and he was fine.

Somehow, I’ll get by the next six months. I am pretty sure there will be things that I will have missed and things that I will have packed that I will find no use for at all. There will be many days where I will miss being around my own things, when I will wish we can figure out where home is, for real. But, it will be worth it.

Sometimes in order to reach a different plane of being, we have to give up so much. It seems so silly, to use packing a bag as a metaphor for these deeper lessons. But right now, I’m going to see how I can do with one suitcase and maybe a few extra things for the next 4 or perhaps 6 months. I’m going to try to live simply. To seriously de-clutter.

That feels good, to say it, to know it, to feel it.

What if I can do this?

Everything is starting to feel a little lighter.

And that is a good thing.