And so, the packing has begun. Or at least the planning and purchasing part of it anyhow. It’s a little early to actually pack, but I went ahead and made the list. After the great disaster that was last year’s Grand (Canyon) Christmas (if you’d like to hear about that story, let me know, and I’ll hit you up), I’ve taken to a completely new philosophy on packing and particularly how to pack light. I have Andy Day to thank for that.
As much as I’d like to wear polyester and outdoor outfits all the time, I do have a dress code to adhere to with the Peace Corps, and packing is a bit more complex in that I’m packing for two years rather than two weeks. That said, most of what I am bringing is actually more “specialty” stuff that I want or that I don’t suspect I can easily or cheaply find in Morocco. Thus, I really am packing rather light considering the length of time I will be gone. I’m putting it all in two packs – my Swiss Army pack that I used to backback Europe leading up to my semester in Scotland and a smaller, multi-day pack I have yet to purchase for my carry-on.
The first time I ever “packed up,” I mean really packed any of my stuff up, was the move to college. I was a little more eager to get away from Mom and Dad at eighteen than I am now at twenty-seven, and back then, I would pack my stuff in the living room whilst blasting the slightly rebellious melodies of the Smashing Pumpkins as loud as possible. As a result, I always came to associate the Pumpkins with packing. I listened to them when I got ready to go to Scotland. I even listened to them when I packed for Nashville a few weeks ago. Music is incredibly important to everything I do, and it guides my choices like a background theme to my life. So, in honor of this exciting packing phase, I decided to share a little Pumpkins with you. Maybe that way, as you read, you can pack with me:
Packing is a rather strange process for me emotionally. I hated everything about packing to move out of Nashville, and thinking back, I hated everything about moving out of Crawfordsville, too. So often, packing signifies a personal death; our old life comes to a close, and seeing your life in a set of boxes can feel so final, even if you have somewhere better to be.
Here it is. This is me. I am this box. The aggregate of my personality and identity and even soul can seemingly boil down to these few things that, in different hands, might be junk. It was funny to me packing up to leave Nashville this time around and realizing that the things I cherish most are often a handful of pictures, drawings, and framed paintings. It wasn’t my computer or my TV or my futon. Those things are great, but they evoke no powerful memories of my life. They’re not part of the ritual that belongs to what makes me Philip. Okay, maybe the computer is. But enough about that.
The thing is, this time around, the packing process is meticulous and filled with excitement. It’s more like packing for college rather than packing to leave college. There’s somewhere to go, a place awaiting me, and I’ve already said or am in the process of saying some of the hardest goodbyes.
I’m wired in such a way that I can’t even stay awake driving if I’m heading somewhere I don’t want to go, but if I’m excited about going there, it doesn’t matter how little sleep I’ve had, I’m wide awake and eager to get there. That’s how these past few days have been. I mean, I’m literally one month away from leaving, and I’m already packing.
And so, packing is an attempt to keep my mind busy. There is still a kind of emotional death, a goodbye that approaches with every passing moment, and though I’m eager to leave, there’s more to be done and more to say. No one likes those kinds of goodbyes. We run from them, from the fear of finality. Or perhaps the fear of change. It flows over us whether we want it to or not, and those goodbyes happen whether we choose to say them or not. That’s life, I guess. Right now, I’m in the midst of saying goodbye to some of my nearest and dearest. Tomorrow, I trek north to Berea, Kentucky to bid farewell to my best friend, Katie Frensley and her wonderful boyfriend, Harold. Then, I’m making a trip to Indiana to see Wabash and some fraternity brothers again. Finally, St. Louis to see Patrick Drake and his wife Lindsay, who I have not met. So yes, lots of hellos and goodbyes. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about that before I leave.
Anyhow, without further adieu, here is the Official Packing List as it now stands:
- Khaki trousers
- Silly bands/necklaces (dogtags/St. Chris medallion)
- Zune HD
Swiss Army Wenger Pack:
LOWER COMPARTMENT (items not immediately needed) –
- Wool coat
- Coat Shell
- Thermal Underwear
- Fleece gloves
- Hoodie, sweatshirt
- Two Small Towels
- New Balances
- Socks & boxers (close to top)
MIDDLE COMPARTMENT –
- Separated Hammock/Straps
- Athletic Shorts
- Duct Tape
- Spork & Bowl
- Freezer bags
- Trousers (including cargo, lightweight, and regular)
- Dress Shirt
- Shirts (Polos, Tees, and long-sleeve)
- Standard Toiletry Items (near top)
- Burt’s Bees
- Extra Pair of Glasses & Sunglasses
STRAPPED TO OUTSIDE –
- Sleeping Pad
- North Face Sleeping bag
- Socks & Boxers
- Assortment of extra shirts and trousers
- Netbook with Plug
- Zune Plugs
- USB Drive
- Rechargeable or Solar Powered Batteries/Charger
- 220V Converter
- Nikon Camera
- Empty Nalgene
- Classic novel (suggestions, anyone?)
- Pop’s Patches/Paraphenalia
- Pictures of friends and family
- Sticky tack
- Padres Cap
So there it is. Feel free to make suggestions or even to suggest certain things I make a point not to bring.