travel

What is your most important possession? Yourself

“Leaving home”
Shena Tschofen / flickr

Originally published June 2015

It’s 6:30 in the morning and I stumble out of bed to heat and pour some water for my boyfriend and his father, both of whom are about to leave for France. The car is filled from window to window with clothes, electronics, books, and all the other things one accumulates over the span of four years. We exchange goodbyes  I’m tearing up of course — and I wave until the car slips around the corner.

I look around the room after they’re gone. The apartment has slimmed down, to be sure, but it’s nowhere near empty. A whole kitchen full of cooking equipment. A bookshelf. Light fixtures and several dying ivies in pots. Salt and pepper shakers. Shisha charcoal. Citronella candles. A print of “Le Mont Saint Michel” and pictures from the Holocaust Museum. An artificial Christmas tree. I breathe, and one determined thought bubbles up into my consciousness. PURGE.

I post everything to a Facebook trading page. “Very cheap and FREE decorations, etc – pickup today!” I write, stealing a line I’ve seen before. A lot of what I post is for free, or a few dollars at the most. Almost immediately, messages start to come like raindrops.

Soon after, a woman appears at the door. She has come for my clothes. They are good quality, ones that I could sell for decent money if I had the time and patience, but I don’t care. Take as much as you want! I say, pointing out my favorite items. I give freely and feel like a billionaire showering money on the heads of third-world children.

She leaves and I’m one dollar and a bag of chocolate and fresh fruit richer, several clothes and a stack of note cards lighter. It feels quite fair, this trade.

As I eat my chocolate on a yoga cushion (it’s the only chair I have left), it occurs to me that my first-ever post on the Prague BLOG was also about stuff. I remember that time when I was preparing to leave the States and how shocked I was by the amount of things I’d collected. Some things I left with other people  books from college, a board game, a beautiful heirloom piano given as a graduation gift  while I donated most everything else. I’ll admit that it’s a bit painful, parting with so many things at once, but I’ve learned that it can be a beautiful process, too. As you finger each flowerpot and teacup you remember a special person, remark or wonderful event.

Yet I’m trying to think about the future in the same complexity that I remember the past. In my next destination, I wonder, how many pairs of sweaters will I need? What about this paperweight, a gift from a former boss  will I miss it? Should I keep or toss this notebook for future writing inspiration? But the future doesn’t work that way. It’s unpredictable, and so I therefore can’t know if I will need the same things that I did in Prague, and if I will regret giving away my possessions.

I like to prepare and plan as much as possible, so this uncertainty is a difficult thing to grasp. Some days, I would just like to know what will happen and what I will need for this or that situation. But perhaps the biggest realization I’ve had during my time in Prague is that I will always find what I need. Because the most important possession I have is not a tea light holder. It’s myself.

The Rebekah I’ve tried to love and care for the past two years, the Rebekah who at times disappoints me but more often makes me proud. She isn’t going anywhere. She’s coming with me to (spoiler alert!) PARIS, just as she’s come to Prague.

The thing about Rebekah is that she’ll be able to face this bright, exciting, unnerving future, whatever unexpected events occur to make it more bright, exciting and unnerving.

And perhaps she’ll even pull it off with one single, albeit absolutely stuffed, suitcase.

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