When I met Jesse in 2009, he had recently left his job to travel across Europe, and I was getting my Master’s Degree at Dublin City University. We were on a 24-hour ferry ride from Rosslare, Ireland to Cherbourg, France.
Jesse had been on the road for less than a month; he had flown from Vancouver into London on March 9, and when I first met him on March 20, his backpack was quite light. The only thing he owned that seemed cumbersome was the camera he carried around his neck. On my end, I had packed the indispensable heavy books and binders into a suitcase to spend Reading Week at my parents’. I admired and envied his sense of adventure and his very simple packing skills for a five-month trip.
After the crossing, Jesse and I parted ways, but not for long. We both realized that we liked each other, but that we also had very different projects going on, so we kept in touch and didn’t make a fuss about it. He went on to explore Greece and Eastern Europe, and I quickly got back to my academic life in Dublin.
Months later, Jesse and I were in Glasgow. We both wanted to visit Scotland and get together, so via email we arranged to meet at the hostel on June 10. When we did, I noticed Jesse’s backpack appeared to be much heavier and his shoulders seemed awfully sore…. After a few days, when I got to have a closer look at what was in his luggage, I was nothing short of horrified. I believe my first thought was: “This guy has become a crazy hoarder.”
His pack weighed close to 150 pounds. I couldn’t even lift it. It contained everything imaginable: records, a pair of purple shoes, rocks found on the beach in Santorini, coins from Bulgaria, etc. All I had for this three-week escapade was a small rucksack filled with the bare minimum. It had taken me a lot of effort to pack so little, knowing I would have to look my best for some major-league flirting sessions.
I, a very tidy minimalist, a clutter-hater, of all people, was falling in love with a packrat.
After having spent the past five years with Jesse, I can confess that my first impression of him was terribly wrong, but the second one was spot on. His packing skills are appalling. He collects things he picks up on his trips and never throws anything away. Each little item seems to bring him back to a night spent in Amsterdam, or a meal had on the Queen Mary II.
Jesse truly changed me for the better. I now live out of my suitcase, ready for the next adventure (but also because there’s no room for my stuff in our closet), and I never stop preaching: “Memories are in our head, they’re not held in things.” Do you always pack too much for a trip? Do you collect things (too many things) during your travels? If yes, do you keep them in shoe boxes and never look at them again? Leave a comment below and let us know what your luggage says about you.