The Things They Carried On

I don’t know about you, but every time I go home for the holidays, I bring way too much stuff.

I haven’t checked a bag in a year, not since Southwest lost my checked suitcase full of wine (gifts) last year. I got it back, but the anxiety made me vow to travel with no frills in the future. I try not to collect things I can’t eat, drink or wear. The biggest exception to this is carting around huge books when I fly. It’s the best time to read, because everything else is so awfully uncomfortable, focusing fully on a book is the optimal way to pass time.

But when I fly back to my childhood home in California, I want to be prepared for anything. What if I suddenly get asked to a holiday ball and need appropriate cocktail garb? This has yet to occur, but I still bring a fancy dress home each year. Of course, I need several shoe options: casual sneakers, running shoes, and a more dressy boot. These take up the most space, and I’m annoyed when I remember I have sneakers to wear at my parents’ home. In fact, pretty much everything I wear on these trips comes out of my old closet.

It’s not like my mom has gotten rid of anything since I moved out of the house six years ago. During college and post-college life, my old room has remained a storage unit. My dresser drawers are filled with clothes that haven’t quite made the cut for the weather in the places I’ve lived. Each time I visit, I shop my closet and find long-forgotten items to bring back home.

That’s where things get tricky. For example, I’ve recently become a lip gloss fanatic after swearing the sticky stuff off in high school. So when my mom gifted me a lip gloss sampler from Sephora, I knew I’d use them… but I already found eight other glosses in my old makeup collection. Which begs the question: how much lip gloss does a girl really need? But while I found a dozen lip glosses to pick from, I had to send my mom out to buy me the one thing they didn’t have: shampoo and conditioner (she uses 2-in-1, which gives me flashbacks to the dry hair of a mildly traumatic adolescence).

On to the bigger matters: clothing. I go through exercise phases, and one of my on-again, off-again loves is running. Right now, running and I are in the midst of a passionate love affair. So when I found long sleeved shirts and shorts to supplement my small Tennessee collection, I tried to pack them all. The trouble is, my mom and my friends bought me clothes too.

I’m lucky my mom is a professional packer. She can fit all my junk plus the kitchen sink in my magical carry on bag (Shout out to Northwestern Athletics!) So what is in my bags? My laptop, two (large) books, plus four pairs of shoes and numerous pairs of long sleeve shirts and pants. My untouched cocktail dress. A couple bags full of tiny lotions and potions. And all that lip gloss. Here’s to hoping the next time I go home, I’ll actually try out the true minimalist approach 🥂

Happy New Year!

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