My straight-talking sister, having requested an update on my whereabouts, texted me just one word: gypsy. My guess is that she did not mean this in a “respect for the Romanies”, or even a “banjo-playing, gaily- coloured flounces, and horse-drawn caravan” sort of way. Instead she was tutting because I am camped out in the spare rooms of a succession of respectable homeowners, and creating an eyesore. For all she knows, I am hanging my laundry on hedges to dry. (I am not. I haven’t washed anything in well over a week, and Washington DC is not well endowed with hedges).
All this moving around is proving quite useful in terms of paring down my packing. It doesn’t take many flights of stairs or much maneuvering on tight landings before I start to think that perhaps I can live without that top I paid too much for, the clogs I rarely wear, and the tablet with the broken screen.
A new round of cut backs is in progress, for, although I have reduced my walkabout wardrobe by more than half since I became itinerant last Spring, I still have to find room for new purchases from the Peace Corps packing list: things I have never owned before like a puffer jacket, silk thermals and a head lamp (for walking home along uneven roads after nightfall. Yikes). All this alien, arctic, outdoorsy stuff forms the Winter pile on the sofa in my current place of rest. Beside it is a mixed pile of clothes for next week when I will be touching down in British Columbia. Vancouver demands wet weather gear and comfy shoes. In Victoria, I’ll need to dress up for a family occasion– smart skirt and good shoes. Next to all of this is a pile of Summer clothes for a trip to Jamaica in a couple of weeks. A flowery dress and lime green canvas shoes jostle for space with what I plan to wear for yoga. (It would be overstating the case to describe this tangle of black outsize cotton as yoga-wear). Expect to hear more about the yoga holiday later–it’ll be a stretch. 🙂
Back in my borrowed basement, each piece of clothing knows it has to pull its weight. Anything not worn and re worn while away will be relegated to the thrift shop pile when I return . A fashion anorak (if that is not a contradiction in terms), a pair of brown leggings (never worn) and an orange cardigan (what was I thinking?) went that way yesterday. The thrift store pile is there as a dark warning to the rest of the wardrobe: shape up or ship out.
The cull will continue until I pack for Armenia in early March. Clothes that make the cut, plus a sleeping bag, towels, sheets and a bumper book of crossword puzzles will have to fit in two suitcases and a carpet bag. Packing parquetry.
Each time my hosts see me leaving with a bag their eyes brighten: perhaps she’s moving on and we can reclaim our floor space? Fear not mes bravs, the female foundation wear will be folded up and put away, the shoe mountain will subside. It won’t be long now I promise.
Read how other people do it: