As I packed up my apartment at the end of the semester, it began to dawn on me that maybe a dozen gnome figurines, a marble pedestal, and a portrait of Clint Eastwood wasn’t what they meant by “dorm room essentials.”
I couldn’t categorize myself as a ‘light packer,’ because my tote for a weekend trip could keep a small family clothed for several weeks. I don’t know if the term ‘overpacker’ works either, though, because even when I bring an indecent amount of clothes I’m still missing most of what I need. The aforementioned family would be unhappily clad in an assortment of costume jewelry and kimonos but wouldn’t be able to scrounge up a sensible pair of shoes if their lives depended on it.
But I believe that change is possible and this trip to Italy could be my chance to turn it all around. Here are some key items I will be lugging around in my suitcase:
1. A pair of man-repelling sunglasses. These can take any shape really, but should look more postmodern sculpture perched upon the bridge of your nose than a practical sun-shielding accessory. Mine combine the tiny circular reflective orange lenses with seemingly purposeless metal bars spanning the top! …fellas?
2. An array of belts. They magically transform skirts into dresses! Shirts into skirts! Scarves into tops! A shapeless blob of fabric into a waist-defining ensemble! A run-of-the-mill clothesline into a zipline cable for a quick getaway!
3. A smattering of sheer. Unabashedly see-through tank tops, skirts, and shirts. I don’t understand why I keep doing this to myself. It was a thrill at first, when I had to devise a scheme to sneak out of the suite before my roommate caught me and forced me to put on something ‘decent.’ Now the excitement has gone and all that’s left is the inconvenience. I mean, I bought a completely sheer dress a few days ago! Why did that seem like a good idea! I’ll have to layer a whole outfit underneath it just to go out in public! While I don’t recommend this, I’ve got to work with what I’ve got.
4. Walking shoes.
5. Motorcycle jacket. I don’t know that this is appropriate for the weather or the culture I will be encountering, but I feel invincible whenever I’m in leather. That feeling accounts for the scraped elbows, which I got after an ill-fated attempt at learning to skateboard down an impressively steep parking deck without first learning how to stop.
6. Books. My housemates and I are building a ramshackle little home library and borrowing books from one another while we’re there. My contributions are Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger, Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer, and Atlas Shrugged. At the peak of of the Gulf Oil Spill, when crude oil had been gushing into the sea for three months, I heard someone say that the well should be plugged with all the works of Ayn Rand. I didn’t get it then.
7. Weaponry: I have a policy that every piece of jewelry I wear should be able to double as a weapon if the situation calls for it. My earrings are little golden spikes and my rings work as brass knuckles when needed.Try explaining that to the clerks at your local boutique, though, and you’ll see their finger inching toward the silent alarm. My favorite necklace is a golden pendant in the shape of a circle, engraved with the words ‘Newman Machine Co. No. 24.’ My best friend Ally found dozens of the tags scattered among the debris of an abandoned warehouse where they hung on nails to mark the place that tools should hang. She made them into necklaces and mailed them to everyone we love. It’s not that dangerous in and of itself, but it keeps the spirit of adventure close at hand, which is maybe the most dangerous thing of all. [Editor’s note: No. No, it’s not.]
This is just a working list, but even this demonstrates a notable lack of anything really practical or necessary for travel. Stay tuned to watch the mayhem that ensues during my month in Italy.