I have a lot of shit. This became much less of a problem when I moved out of a 4-bedroom, 5-person apartment and into my own one-bedroom early this summer. I had an entire room to clutter with my clothes and accessories and another to fill with other things I need — a vast collection of stationery, crafting supplies like ribbon and Swarovski crystal, and tea, lots and lots of tea. You know, the bare necessities of life.
Being faced with one big suitcase, a weekender bag and the command that I could only fill that much — getting a suitcase shipped to London and shipped back would be too much a wake-up call that I don’t need to keep t-shirts from my high school orchestra — was heartbreaking. I finally had to make a decision about what stuff was just that, stuff. A few American Apparel dresses got the “Sorry, you’re not nearly as versatile as the mannequins suggest. I can’t actually wear sheer white jersey to class and not accidentally enter wet T-shirt contests.” A few pairs of flats got the “Sorry, the hole in your sole is just too much to ignore. It’ll be wet and cold when I get there.” And the saddest part is that all this spring cleaning came too late for me to be able to sell my stuff to Crossroads.
The guides from my program, Arcadia University, don’t help. Neither does the rest of the Internet. The Internet which can teach me how to hack my neighbor’s WiFi can’t just give me a rundown of how many shirts, skirts, dresses, pants, etc. I need. It’s infuriating.
Their advice: bring jeans. Thanks, I was planning on bringing my large collection of rainbow sweatpants that cuff at the ankle to live in for the next four months. (Note: Nobody should ever wear sweatpants that cuff at the ankle, ever. There’s always a better substitute — for the gym, for going to bed, though not for a celibacy plan. Those sweatpants are a great aid to celibacy.)
Of course that’s an exaggeration. The Arcadia guide has helpful advice like limiting the amount of stuff you bring — you mean I don’t need my blow dryer which I’ve used once in my life? – and the oft-forgotten fact that Europe is a country with stores that sell things, normal things that won’t turn your skin green or make your hair fall out. It also offers interesting cultural tips. Did you know that it’s socially acceptable in Europe to wear the same outfit a few days in a row?
In the end, none of that is good enough. What I really want is someone to go into my closet, fold everything into perfect squares and provide me just enough outfits to look great while fitting into a manageable load. Someone who will notify all my friends that calling my phone in the next four months is dumb — no, I can’t hang out and you just charged me $1.20 for asking that — and really, just take care of all those details that come with traveling, leaving and being somewhere you’ve never been after you’ve carved out your beautiful Evanston nest.
But until the money train rolls in and I can pay someone to take care of that, I will pack, sit, zip, unpack and repeat until Sunday.