Saturday, May 15, 2010

La Vida Expatica #2: The Things We Take With Us

Dear fellow expats (and serial in-country relocators),

When you are an expert at packing up and moving all of your worldly posessions at least once every two years, you become awfully practical about what to keep and what to leave behind (as discussed here).

However, we are all sentimental beings and occasionally a not-so-practical item will squeeze its way into the mix. You know what I'm talking about: those special little (or not so little!) objects that remind us of home, of family, of friends, or even of a particular cuisine or lifestyle. We carry them with us in hopes that geographical distance won't be the end of our fond memories and personal bonds.

Sometimes these mementos are easy to fit in a suitcase or pack into a cargo box: old photographs, a cookbook, a jewelry box, a satchel of lavender from a garden past. Other times, our sentimental objects are oversized, impractical, heavy as all hell, and prone to cause problems at customs.

On my personal list of the wholly absurd (but emotinally satisfying) things I've hauled halfway around the world and back, the following stand out:

- a complete set of antique silver flatware;
- all of my jewelry-making supplies (#1 in creating headaches at customs);
- all of my old journals (20 volumes, to be exact)
- countless cans of green chile (although as a New Mexican, this is really an essential and not a luxury).

What about you? I'd love to know the most random things you've repeatedly packed up and carried with you over the years. What are the objects you can't imagine leaving behind? Please share in the comments!


--jenna said...

Oh dear. It seems like everything I take is completely unessential (very Eloise, I'm afraid!) Jewelry supplies, smuggled pepperoni, a complete e.e. cummings collection that weighs nearly five pounds, every sharpie color known to mankind, high heeled shoes (and chacos that I NEVER wear but bring anyhow), powdered sugar, maple syrup flavoring, my favorite Anthropologie fluted bowls. Vogue magazines. Cap'n Crunch cereal. And my favorite spoon!

Peg said...

A set of colored Pyrex mixing bowls, and a 36" round mirror which were gifts to my parents at their 1962 wedding, and books. Waaaaay too many books.

I don't think I'll bring the bowls and mirror with me when I move to Brazil in July since I have the luxury of keeping my house here in the states, but I'll definitely pack way too many books!

RD said...

A silk gerbera daisy in a flower pot has followed me around for years and still sits on my bathroom counter. I can't explain why I lug it around, but it makes me feel like I'm home wherever it is. Gerberas were in my wedding bouquet and have always been special to me.

Colin said...

I've got to admit, there is nothing really of sentimental value that I continually pack. Oh wait, there is one thing....a Cross funny enough (since I'm not particularly religious). I found it once in my car years ago when I was in high school, and had no idea where it came from. So I've always kept it, out of a hope that it brings me good luck, and fear that something bad will happen if I lose it lol.

Otherwise, I travel pretty lightly. When I stop wear a particular shirt or pair of pants, I give it away instead of keeping it. I don't keep any paper files (everything stored on my computer). I regularly move and leave furniture and basics (plates, irons, etc.) behind. Things of value that I acquire (nice pieces of art, sculptures, etc.) usually end up at some point in my parent's house for storage.

Lately this has been making me feel quite nomadic. My goal is, within the next 3 years, have an actual home where I can keep my stuff, and store/display new things I acquire!

Linda said...

I always bring photos of family and books. I'm trying to cut down on my books and clothing too. Funny how we get attached to things.

Ellen said...

A red tea kettle. A dried flower in a glass container. The airline blankets that I steal from the plane (except American Airlines, their blankets aren't good enough to be worth grabbing).

Jody said...

Cast iron tawa and kanari, 6 different language dictionaries, a blue mug, spices, my CD collection of all the Jane Austin movies, plus other BBC historical fiction movie series.