In my family, there’s a famous story of me as a little girl, entrusted to pack my own suitcase before a vacation. It was a big trip; I think we were headed to the DC area from Texas, and I’m sure my parents were running around like crazy, trying to corral all of us and take care of last-minute details.
That must have been the case, I figure, because otherwise, surely someone would have thought to inspect my luggage before we boarded the plane.
If they had, they probably would have realized that I’d filled my suitcase with books. Instead of clothes, I’d opted for reading material. We had to go out and buy underwear for me while on our trip, because I hadn’t brought a single pair.
Let that sink in for a minute: I didn’t leave enough room around the many, many books for a single pair of undies.
You can see why this story lives on in my family, all these years later. Since then, I’ve packed a lot of suitcases, and I’m pretty good at it, in my own disorganized way.
I do, however, still have a problem with bringing perhaps too many books.
I unpacked my suitcase today and – not counting the three journals I brought – I have 11 physical books with me. I also have my Kindle, storing another nine. 11 books + Kindle + three journals = I effectively brought 15 sources of reading with me, crammed into the one carry-on-sized suitcase and one laptop bag I allowed myself for this six-week trip.
It’s like the world’s bulkiest security blanket, as I justify the number of texts by reminding myself of the panic that I would surely feel if I wanted a particular type of book and didn’t have it, or if my Kindle stopped working for no reason.
Never mind that I am in Paris, and probably won’t be reading much anyway. And never mind that there are bookstores here – English ones, even! – where I could restock if the need was so great.
Ah well. They look nice on the desk, next to this lovely ranunculus bouquet I picked up. And at least now I always, always remember to bring underwear.
(Am I alone in this? What do other people bring too much – or too little – of, when traveling?)