The Stuff I Kept

There was one aspect of coming home that I found myself unexpectedly looking forward to: going through the stuff I left behind. As much deliberation as it took to decide what I should take with me, I remember spending months thinking about what to keep. You know, important internal debates like what’s more important to save, a baseball glove or a skillet? (The baseball glove, obviously).

I never thought re-discovering things I kept for myself would be exciting. But, as I stood in my parents basement, I found myself excited to open the Rubbermaid containers full of my own stuff. I wasn’t excited in the “oh, I might find a $20 bill in my pants!” kind of way. No, it was more like the excitement you had as a kid on Christmas morning when you had already found your presents weeks before, but hoped that your parents weren’t finished shopping.

Well, like the kid whose parents were done shopping, I found myself standing over empty boxes, with stuff strewn everywhere, and thinking to myself, “that’s it?!?!?”

stuff I kept when I left to travel stuff

All of our stuff, pre-christmas disappointment

What I forgot about is that we had very limited space to transport things from Oregon to Ohio. Like, only the trunk of a mid-90s Japanese sedan. Yes, we could have shipped stuff home, but Kim and I were too cheap to do that. We were on a budget and trying to save every last penny for our travels was our #1 priority.

Another thing I forgot about was how stressed out we were before we left and how much this affected our judgment. I didn’t realize just how stressed out I was until months afterwards when I realized I don’t really remember our last weeks in Portland due to the stress of leaving.

So, with my judgment suspect and rationale cloudy, I packed up my life. The result is that I am left with a random assortment of stuff that is fairly useless – unless I want to play catch, that is. For your amusement, here is a representative list of the stuff I decided to keep:

  • 2 tents
  • 3 different beer glasses
  • Christmas ornaments
  • A notebook I have had for 6 years, but haven’t written in for over 5 years
  • 1 can opener
  • 1 corkscrew
  • Clothes for working in an office

These last items really disturbed me when I re-discovered them. I mean, I had about 13 square feet of trunk space to keep 8 years of stuff, and I decided to keep work clothes? I guess I was already re-planning my entry into cubicleville – which I guess is a statement on how lame I really was before traveling am.

stuff I kept when I left to travel clothes

This discovery was more disappointing than getting a toothbrush for your birthday

After re-finding these clothes, I tried to convince myself that I wasn’t making rational decisions at the time – that the stress of being on the doorstep of a life-changing event was blocking my ability to make reasonable decisions.

Oh, how I wish I could believe this. But, alas, it’s not true. After all, I did spend a disproportionate amount of space to carry elaborate glassware to ensure that my fancy beer-drinking habit was well-fed. Keeping these glasses was obviously the choice of a clear-thinking individual.

stuff i kept when leaving to travel glasses

I own 3 specialty beer glasses and 5 pair of underwear, the proper 3:5 ratio of beer to butt coverage

I suppose the re-discovery of these clothes was disappointing because it brought me back to the reality that this lifestyle of travel will someday end and I will re-enter the workforce. I know this will happen, and I am fine with it. If I am being honest, there are times when working 9-to-5, weekend plans, and having a structured routine to life sounds nice, I just might not say it too loudly.

stuff I kept when leaving to travel kitchen utensils

These are the only kitchen utensils I own now – I’m not sure I want to know what that says about me

I guess more than anything, knowing that this lifestyle will end makes me look forward to getting back on the road. I will appreciate this time more and take less for granted. I’m still going to hold out hope that Kim and I can eventually find a life that allows us to travel and make a living doing so, but that hope will no longer be pie-in-the-sky, unrealistic hopes – they will be tempered by the reality of the situation.

I know I still have time before I have to wear those clothes on a daily basis, and I will treasure this time. But until that day arrives, I will be sure to make good use of those glasses, because god knows I need help dealing with the decision to wear this:

stuff I kept when I left to travel me dressed

I need a drink just looking at this picture

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Author: Brian

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