Notes On Packing: Or, How Am I Going to Fit 1 Year of My Life in 3 Suitcases?

Luckily, I don’t have this much baggage. … Nearly, though.

Photo by kthread

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a problem. Well, maybe more like two or three problems. As I sit here on my bed surrounded by postcards, ticket stubs, half of pairs of socks, six pairs of jeans and books I never read while playing a game called TAKE, TOSS or STORE, my problems are impossible to ignore and borderline embarrassing. And the first step is admitting to that problem, right? Here goes.

Problem #1: I’m a chronic overpacker. Let me put it this way: I went home for three weeks at Christmas and came back with an extra bag, bringing my suitcase total up to 4. For the return trip, I’m attempting to limit myself to the use of two suitcases, while leaving one (the largest one) stored here for my return in the fall. This has made me realize that I own a lot of clothing… But I never have anything to wear. Huh, the conundrum of being a girl. This leads into…

Problem #1.5: I like having stuff. Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m materialistic, but I like things. When I get paid, I enjoy spending my money on clothes, books, magazines, shoes — pretty much, anything and everything I absolutely don’t need. I recognize this needs to stop, and recently it has, but not before I accumulated so much stuff in this apartment that I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it.

Photo by Drew Coffman

Problem #2: I’m a hoarder. The most difficult part of this packing extravaganza is sorting through everything I own, one year’s worth of stuff!, and deciding what to do with it. And guess what? I hate parting with nearly everything. I’ve managed to fill my bedroom in Michigan with movie ticket stubs, pictures I took in middle school of people I no longer talk to, magazines and random party favors. Spending a year in Europe has given me an extraordinary opportunity to collect useless brochures, un-sent postcards, train ticket stubs, cards/postcards/letters people sent to me and everything in between. In this case, I don’t keep these things just because I like them, but because it has true sentimental value to me. Tossing the souvenirs in the trash bag makes me sad.

So I sit here, surrounded by my life and memories of this year, with my apartment in shambles and I am perplexed. I’m not sure how I’m ever supposed to fit everything into a few suitcases, and I wonder how my assistant friends are faring with this packing business.

Photo by zenobia_joy

But mark my words: I’m going to get home and streamline this process for next year. First step, be able to strap my life on my back. Then… try to take over the world. Or something like that.

Do you have problems packing, too? Or do you think I’m insane? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time…
Cheers,
Alaina

The End is Nigh.

Well, people, 41 more days and I’ll be landing at perhaps the most heinous airport in the world, Detroit Metro. I purchased my ticket, everything is official. I’m excited to go home and see my family, friends and dogs. I can’t wait to eat Mexican food and drink Oberon. Yet, as I sit in my apartment, I get an anxious knot in my stomach.

This knot is not only from the incredible task ahead of me — sorting through all of my belongings, deciding what to keep, toss or leave behind for next year, taking the train and two airplanes back to Detroit with all my luggage — but it’s also from indecision. Should I be happy to leave? Should I be sad? Do I want to leave? Do I want to stay? Am I really about to leave?

This year has been the best year of my life. I’ve met so many new people who I love and get along with really well. I’ve been able to explore a new country, expand my German skills, learn how to live completely on my own and take care of myself. I’ve partied in countless cities and seen the sun rise on many-a night out. I have no regrets.

But the end is in sight. Since my Easter Break in the Czech Republic and my last weekend partying in Graz, it feels even closer. I’m not sure who I’ll see again before the end of the year, I won’t go to Vienna again and probably not Graz. My teachers never seem to need me anymore (I’ve worked 4 of 13 hours this week) and boredom has reached an all-time high. I just want to be home already.

41 more days… I know THE END won’t hit me until a few weeks later. And though I’m coming back to Austria in 4 months, next year will be a whole different experience with new people and places.

I look at this past year as another phase in my life. I’m a big believer in phases. High school was a phase, college a phase, Freiburg was a phase, and Bad Aussee, Austria is my most recent phase. I made memories and friends in each phase, and some people have made it through to the next, but many have been left behind. I’ve taken what I could from each phase, and soldiered on to the next one.

I don’t know, I never know. I’m rambling — that much I do know.

“What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of a good-by.  I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them.  I hate that.  I don’t care if it’s a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it.  If you don’t, you feel even worse.” ~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 1

I hear ya, Holden.

Cheers,
Alaina