It’s crazy to think about what brings somebody to pick up their life and do something, anything out the ordinary. Perhaps some people just find life to be mundane in their situation, or they have errands you have to do along the way. From adventuring along the roads of the USA using only foot powered travel to road tripping by car, it’s not something everybody does in their lifetime. My own father expressed jealousy when I began my skate trip from Oregon to Boston, and even now he finds himself asking, “what about me?” as he stays in the same role career-wise he’s been in for the last 30 years.
I suppose at sometime I told myself I never wanted to end up like that. I’ve made significant strides in my life to prioritize seeking out new experiences contrary to what’s best financially, structurally, and the most safe. Skating across the USA was only a small taste of the adventure that’s out there; I could never see myself being the kind of person to find something comfortable and do it forever.
So as someone who has her entire life strewn about the continental USA (my belongings are still waiting for me in Oregon and California- just received my things from Florida!), I wonder if I could ever really keep them all in one place. I’m certainly trying, with stops in both San Diego, CA and Bend, OR planned. But beyond that- am I foolish to think I’m ever going to settle?
I have a unique situation where my income comes from taking various clients and working for them from behind my computer screen. My girlfriend, whom I’m moving with, works as a wildlife ecologist and travels around the world on contracts for anyone offering a good position with lots to learn. Neither of us are tied to a single spot, so we travel light. In fact, we fit all of our belongings into a tiny Honda Civic.
As I shut the final car door prior to hitting the road, I took note in the ease of closing it- there was no pushing against stuffed in suitcases. You can easily see over the belongings and out the back window. The trunk was lightly packed with camping materials for easy access. All of my things, minus skateboarding trophies and skateboarding gear, fit into only two 60L backpacks. Hers in only two duffle bags.
I asked myself why it seemed so strange. We’re quite literally moving to North Dakota in a car, from Massachusetts. It felt like there should have been more things. I remembered back in early 2017 when I moved in a friend to Cambridge, who had just moved from Las Vegas, Nevada. He had a full Uhaul and a second car worth of things. It took hours to unpack everything. It just wasn’t like that for my girlfriend and I. I only had what was left at my parents house from before I moved to California in late 2017, and she only had her things from living in Nevada studying sage grouse.
Taking note of the fact that not only did neither of us have more than some changes of clothes and camping gear, I pondered on what it meant to really pack for a distance trip. Of course, going backpacking requires more thought and planning, yet I still found myself counting weight and throwing away anything I wasn’t immediately going to be using.
The one difference I noticed between a road trip, this moving adventure to North Dakota and a backpacking journey was the fact that both of us had brought a few decorations. Things we could absolutely go without. They take up space in the backseat, but as we are getting into a 2 bedroom apartment we both silently agreed we would decorate it, even if just for a months.
In the future, my parents will be deceased, my girlfriends sisters and family will have their own private lives, and friends will have moved on (I haven’t gone to a wedding in a while). We won’t have an area to store our belongings that don’t belong on a crazy trip, of the many we want to plan.
Do we let go of my girlfriend’s precious paintings that mean a lot to her? Do I throw away my numerous trophies and collected goods from racing? There’s no way to say. However, these questions really brought into perspective what thr difference was in packing between the types of travelling I’ve done.
It’s easy to tell yourself, if you cant use it, you don’t need it. It’s harder tor let go of these mementos collected over years that essentially define who you are. I never considered myself a nostalgic person until the moment I placed a skateboard sized box of trophies and old boards in a place that could have been used for other things left behind.
Some may find pleasure in ultralight packing. Its the easiest way to force yourself to be a minimalist. I however, only find it taxing on the soul. There’s no middle ground.