When you're preparing to ship your belongings to Europe in a trunk and a suitcase or two, you really start to question the amount of stuff you've managed to acquire.
It doesn't feel like we own this much. We each did a huge clean-out last year before getting married in preparation for B moving into my condo. We did another clean-out as he was moving in and we were replacing some old belongings with new wedding gifts. And we did a huge end-of-year clean-out this past December in anticipation of moving to France. Our 2014 tax deductions from Goodwill are unbelievable. But we still have a ton of stuff!
And the really scary thing is that we're not bringing furniture, household goods, or kitchen stuff with us to France; we're only taking clothes, shoes and toiletries. I've even been limited to bringing just a few books (The only way I'm surviving this is that I purchased a tablet and will use it as an e-reader. Grudgingly. More on that later).
But stuff. Once we realized things were really getting serious, I went through my closet and started separating my clothes: things to Leave in America on the Left, things that are going Right to France with us on the Right. I went through my dresses, my pants, skirts, shirts, cardigans, workout clothes and shoes. Pretty much the only thing I didn't inventory and sort was underwear and socks.
When I finished, I was blown away. It wasn't that I had too much stuff set aside to take with me. It was that I had much more stuff on the left side of my closets to leave behind.
Granted, a lot of the left-behind stuff is work clothes that I won't really need. But an awful lot of the left-behind stuff is comprised of everyday items that don't fit, are stained/ripped/worn, or that I'm just not that into anymore.
You'd think I'd be packing everything I could, but it's not choice I crave: it's simplicity. Clutter deeply, deeply stresses me out. Back in college, I used to not be able to study if even so much as a hairbrush was out of place. So I don't want our tiny French apartment to be a disaster area. I don't want to stand in front of the closet and hem and haw every morning. I want to go, to live, to DO...not to be tied up in things.
Sure, I'll buy a few things here and there in France, and throughout Europe (you know, like a Longchamp purse). But I know from experience that most souvenirs are eventually forgotten. I'll outgrow or wear out clothes, and jewelry, trinkets, and knickknacks will become old and outdated. I'd much rather accumulate memories and photographs, so that when I'm back at a job, stuck at a desk all day, or a few years down the road when I'm up all night with a screaming baby, I can think back to this trip, this time in our lives, and enjoy it a second time. In my opinion, that's one of the greatest reasons to travel, and to travel light.
That, and I'm really, really glad I don't have to worry about whether or not my outfit is "work appropriate."
P.S. - Happy St. Paddy's Day!