Thursday, April 17, 2008

Good for Travelling

When I buy things for myself, one of my top concerns is whether or not it will be good for travelling. If I find something that I like, I usually say, “I love this. And it would be so great for travelling.” Sometimes, I will even purchase something – a plain jersey skirt, say, or a nylon tote bag – that I wouldn’t otherwise because it seems like it would be so good for travelling. This would not be weird if I were one of those people who travel a lot and always seem to be off to Vietnam or Hungary or Peru whenever they have a few vacation days – then I would obviously need to have lots of stuff that is good for travelling. However, I am not one of those people. Of course I go places from time to time, but travel is not a defining characteristic of my life or my personality. But still, somehow, “good for travelling” has become a watchword for me, some sort of internal code for rightness and correctness.

A cursory glance at my apartment or my closet would tell anyone that I am not by any means a minimalist. Oddly, however, I do have the minimalist’s rage for versatility (“this convenient item serves as a trash can, coffee cup, AND automobile”), the one perfect ____ (“this is the one perfect sweater – you will never need another!”), and violent purging of possessions. You will notice, of course, that all of this is good for travelling – when travelling, in my opinion, it is best to bring a well-edited collection of items (sartorial and otherwise), all of which are madly versatile and ineluctably right for any number of situations.

A great deal of my energy is focused around list-making. My lists are sometimes (at least ostensibly) practical, as in my all-time favorite type of list, which is of course the travelling list. As soon as I know I am going on a trip, no matter how small or far in the future, I sit down and make a list of what I will need to bring. I also make other kinds of lists – catalogues (boots I have), implicit to-dos (things I am going to purge from my apartment and put in the Goodwill drop box), explicit to-dos (cleaning tasks in the apartment), shopping (diapering supplies from the cloth diaper website my baby will need as he grows out of his current things), etc. These lists usually go through many, many iterations, growing and shrinking as the mood strikes. I tend to think of myself as not having particular talent for the logistical or logical, but in the densely connected web of obsessions surrounding my lists and my good-for-travelling, I am a madly practical woman, looking always to winnow her ever-expanding life down to only the perfect and perfectly logical.

On December 31, 2007, I had my first baby. The baby, in addition to being an occasion for profoundly life-altering joy, has also been an occasion for great gusts of list-making and good-for-travellinging. Clothing, blankets, equipment, toys, theories, and opinions enter our apartment in hordes, brought in my own and others’ hands, and I frantically (and happily) catalogue, sort, evaluate, discard, replace, always seeking the most practical, the most versatile, the best for travelling.

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