I had finished packing the car.  I went over my list one more time, just to be sure.  I was certain I had left a box somewhere in the house.  But as I went down the list it was all there.  The car looked empty compared to years past.  I couldn’t figure it out.  How is it that I had downsized my life to this point, to this place where Max and I would be away for two full weeks and we needed so very little.

 In years past the car was bursting at the seams and it always took creative packing done by an ex-husband coming to say goodbye and hankering to help.  But this year by the  time he pulled into the driveway it was done and I was brushing my hands off on my oh too cute mini-skort.  “All done.”  I told him.  He looked it all over, himself in shock…”Can’t be.”   “Yup,” I said.  Its true. Even now, a week into the trip I can’t believe I brought so much.  Even the few Rubbermaid bins that did make it into the car seemed to be too much.  Did I really need to bring all EIGHT books?  I mean really…I will be lucky to make it through two or three.  And did we need all three flashlights?  But we are definitely not without.  We have everything we need.  And more.  In the past what did I need all that other stuff for? Packing for this trip for the last three years I have noticed how I am slowly letting go of my attachments to material things.  I don’t say it to gloat, as I know it is very much in fashion these days to lose ones attachment to stuff.  I say it because it really is a milestone for me, personally.  I feel so light and giddy and I want to get rid of even more—throw a few of these boxes off to the side of the road. As a young adult, stuff was a measure of success.  When the days of poverty ended I set about accumulating stuff.  The beautiful teapots I admired in the windows of Crate and Barrell, mine.  Three sets of sheets for the bed.  Mine again.  Beer glasses, wine glasses, good knives, books, prints and picture frames, vases and furniture, journals and fancy pens.  I could afford them all and therefore there was no reason for me not to bring them home. It was an issue of contention between Juan and I.  I would run into Target for diapers and leave him in the car with the baby.  I would come out with my arms full of throw pillows, cat dishes, and fancy dishcloths.  “How much did that cost?” he would ask suspiciously.  I would huff and puff and exclaim that we “NEEDED IT”, justifying my purchases by the fact that they were on sale, or very very cheap.  The scorn in his eyes burned so I just looked away.  I knew he was right but this was my comfort now that I had somehow arrived, that I some how grew up. I had moments, all too telling, of sitting and flipping through catalogs, dreaming of the new stuff I would buy when I could—some day when I had made it to some new level of fullness and wealth.  It was as though I was convinced that if I filled up my house I would somehow fill up the empty places in my heart. But life has a funny way of coming full circle and since Juan left me, so much of my energy has been about letting go…letting go of him, letting go of my vision for how my life was going to play out, letting go of fear and my illusion of control….well…letting go of the stuff,  the need for things just came along as part of the bargain.  Afterall, after you lose love, suddenly losing things just seems so small. Whatever it is that has got me to this place, I am finding that I am now anxious to do more of it.  To consume less, to take up only a small space on this planet.  To use less things, to take only what I need.  I have heard of those experiments where people vow to not buy stuff for a year.  I wonder if I am up for that? Or if I can do something of a half step—make even more conscious choices about what I buy.  Eliminate things that aren’t needed at all.   What would my car look like next year after spending 12 months doing that?  How would our life look different.  I am just curious enough to try it.  Stay tuned here.

2 Responses to “Light Enough to Travel”

  1. Patricia Dolan Says:


    You write so beautifully. I found your website through Jen Lemen months ago. What an inspiration you are. We’re leaving for a vacation next week and I am going to follow your example and only bring what I ‘need’ and not the ‘extras’. Have you ever written poetry or been published? Your writing is THAT good.

    Your fan and cyber friend,

  2. Jennifer Ballantyne Says:

    Good on you sweetie, lighten the load and why not, who needs extra ‘baggage’. Hugs Jen xxx