Packing 101

by Natalie

I had been planning to move down Virginia on Monday morning, which is how I found myself just beginning to pack at 4:30 on Monday afternoon. I am horrendous at packing. I abhor it. And yet I find myself participating in this activity quite often. One would think that by now I’ve learned the art. Or at least figured out how long it takes me. I always approach packing with the notion that it will take me two hours, and am always shocked when it doesn’t.

My problem Monday afternoon stemmed from the fact that I had not yet fully unpacked from China. I brought two suitcases home with me. One contained all of my clothing. The other contained everything else. Everything else, it turns out, is not that essential to my life, as I was able to ignore its existence for six weeks until I needed the suitcase.

Since I decided that everything else was probably non-essential, I figured I probably was keeping some other non-essential items in my room, which is how I spent the better part of Monday evening organizing instead of packing. Mind you, I’d had six weeks to accomplish this task. I decided to approach my belongings from the viewpoint of this New York Times article from a few weeks back, in which the main premise is ditching anything that does not “spark joy.” I had a long conversation with myself over the Charter of the United Nations & Statute of the International Court booklet I’ve held onto for years, which ultimately landed it in the trash. I’ve always figured it was good to have, and that I should know the things within. Alas, I’ve never actually read it, and I’m pretty sure even if I kept it for another five years I never would.

A few other things that suffered a similar fate to the Charter:

  • A four inch thick pile of card stock (from when I was learning Arabic and would use it to create sturdy study sheets).
  • A card from a boy I once liked, with whom I have a long history that I always thought would culminate in marriage. It was time to fully let go of that fantasy.
  • Stickers that I’m sure one day I could use, but I can’t see that day approaching anytime soon.
  • Four recipe booklets. This doesn’t even begin to touch on my problem with hoarding recipes.
  • Chinese coins. I kept a few. I feel like someone someday is going to ask to see one, but that day hasn’t happened yet.

I kept:

  • A sealed note to myself that says, “Pay as soon as I have a job, N.B. Parking Ticket Dodge Ram,” which is another story entirely.
  • Papers from when I was in high school that explain the function of each of the separate bodies of the U.N. Some part of me finds a working knowledge of the United Nations crucial to my life, despite evidence to the contrary.