I heard it a few minutes ago when I called out an answer to a question my husband asked me from the other room. It’s the sound of less stuff. Our good friends just left after taking a second load of our belongings away. We are uncertain of whether or not we will return to this city where we have been for nearly a year. So they are storing things for us that would be annoying to buy again if we come back. Basic cooking stuff that this “fully furnished” apartment didn’t have, bathroom accessories we had to buy if we didn’t want to pile the shower floor with shampoo bottles and soap, and other convenience items. Nothing fancy or terribly expensive. If it would be a huge loss to gift it to a good friend or if it would tear our hearts in two to part with it at all, we don’t buy it (there have been exceptions to this rule).
Nonetheless, when I hear that echo, I feel a mixture of sadness and irritation. After all these years of this lifestyle, it’s not about the “stuff” per say. It’s about what this sound means. I’m leaving behind wonderful friends, unique experiences that I won’t have in the next country, maybe a convenience (like fantastic public transportation or self-checkout machines), a culture, or a language. Really it can be anything that will create a hole in your heart, mind, or life. If you’re not sure when or if you will return, things can get kind of emotional.
When you jam your whole life into two suitcases and a computer bag making sure that the big suitcase doesn’t weigh more than 23 kilos, the carry-on doesn’t weigh more than 8 kilos and that your computer bag doesn’t bulge so much that they flag it and throw it underneath with the checked baggage, you go through some pretty angry philosophizing. You get angry at everyone from the airlines, to the clothing industry, to your parents for giving birth to a girl (because seriously, do you know how hard the whole clothing thing is when you’re a female nomad?), to your husband who didn’t want you to buy that one suitcase at Kohl’s in 2016 which was two whole inches bigger. The list goes on.
And my babies are gone now. I gave away my plants. Even my gorgeous wine-colored Phalaenopsis orchid. It had popped out two more buds and as a consolation, one of them even began to open for me today, right before I handed it over.
…oh, you expected this post to end in a way that gives closure? Nope. That’s not how a nomadic existence works.
*Note: I wrote this post a month ago when I was in the middle of moving. I’m currently in a new location and in lockdown like all the other surrounding countries. We arrived right before everyone started closing their airports and borders. Safe and sound for now.