Let me start by saying that I always (absolutely always) bring more than I need whenever and wherever I travel. I can’t stand the idea of “not having something vital.” I seek security in things. I know, I know—I’m working on letting go of that.
But there are a few truly meaningful things I always have with me when I travel, particularly when I travel alone. They have joined my travel experiences at different times over the years. Once they are added to the mix, they seem to be permanent.
The oldest: a small zipped bag that I always use for my jewelry when I travel. Anyone who knows me knows how important it is to me to have sufficient earrings and rings with me, and possibly a necklace or two as well. So, it is appropriate that I have a very, very special case in which to put my baubles. My friend Nancy, one of my oldest and dearest friends, made it for me…well, I don’t know how many years ago. Many. Every time I travel, I pull it out and remember that she made this just for me.
Second oldest: My “friend.” Samuel made this for me when I went to a conference (the Americanistas, for anyone who knows about such things) in Seville in 2006. It was the first time I was away from the kids for more than a night or two. I had never been away from Anya, who was then only 17 months old and still nursing. Samuel made me this friend so that I could “do boring things with him and not be lonely.” (My boy, then five, had been begging to come with me, and to fend him off, I kept telling him I was just going to do work and “boring things.”) I take it with me whenever I travel alone.
For the past couple of years: I go nowhere without my journal. I write in it daily, with few exceptions. It is my greatest personal tool. The particular notebook changes, but the process is a saving grace in my life.
Newest addition to the group: A “god’s eye” that Anya made me. When she gave it to me a few weeks ago, she told me to bring it with me to Austin to “rememory” her. (I think that was the word she used). My sweet, sweet primal child.
Other things come along on every trip, of course—my ipod, too many clothes, novels, scarves (one should never travel without cotton scarves). But this little group of items pictured above are the ones that can comfort and ground me on any trip, no matter how uncertain or tired or lonely I am. Because they remind me of what’s really important to me.