The little blue room I sleep in at my mother’s house is filled with stacks of clothes, rolls of canvas, scattered brushes and sundry cosmetics. I have been packing for over twenty four hours now, and I don’t feel I’m any closer to done.
I have gotten very good at packing in the last six months. Moving from hotel to hotel in Italy, my apartment in Paros, a brief trip to Norway, back to Paros, and then back to California – well, let’s just say that I didn’t pack my apartment up on the island until the night before, and it still only took me four hours. And that was an entire apartment. I roll my clothes tightly together, fit cylindrical brushes into canvases, boxes into larger boxes, and am merciless when it comes to culling things I don’t really NEED out of my little caravan.
I didn’t think this time that it would take too long to pack. After all, I never really unpacked after arriving from Paros – I still folded clothes into my suitcase, kept my toiletries tucked in a plastic bag. Force of habit at this point. Still, when I finally started to organize myself a bit yesterday, I found myself dragging my feet in an unexpected way.
It isn’t that I don’t want to go to school. I do, badly. It isn’t that I’m not looking forward to journeying again – I love movement and travel, airplanes and airports and strange landscapes and chance encounters with people. It’s just that there is a childish part of me that is scared to leave, that is tired from three months of a certain kind of dissolution from not being disciplined in terms of my daily schedule. I’m worried about my family. I’m worried that my mother will take a turn for the worse. I worry about my aunt taking care of everyone. I worry that I wasn’t useful enough in the time that I was here, that I didn’t do my best every day, that I didn’t spend enough real time with my mother.
Strangely, beneath all this excessive, noisome worry, my instincts are soothing me. This is right, this is what you’re supposed to be doing.
It’s nearly midnight, and my suitcase is empty. I am tired and heavy. I have burned CDs of all the files I need for work, plus a little music to keep me company. I have organized my paints and cameras and film. I have put my vitamins (of which there are many) in ziploc bags and stowed them in a sack. I have culled through old clothes and put back some well-loved items (my doily!) in favour of warm and efficient clothing.
Right outside my window right now, I can see Orion, just as I could from the villa in Italy, from my jasmine-scented apartment in Greece, from the rooftop of the Athenian hotel, hovering over the Parthenon. Almost as constant as the moon, and a friend. When I was little, I would talk to the constellation nightly as though it were a diary or a celestial parent.
No matter I forget or leave behind, it won’t matter once I’m on the plane. Soon it’ll just be me again, carrying my home on my back like the snails and periwinkles that Seamus and I found tucked like omens all over Greece. Whatever I have, it’ll be all I need.