The Paradoxes Of Packing Light

Over time, I've learned that one of the major signs of maturity is learning to come to terms with your own personal paradoxes. For me, mine has become quite clear: I have a lot of stuff but I love to travel a lot. In addition to writing about my experiences as an expat, I have my own personal style blog.

Somehow I managed to find all the vintage/thrift stores in Madrid. I told myself that it was a work expense, as it were. I was planning to wear my new digs on my blog. Suffice it to say, that didn't happen. In the end, despite having moved to Spain with three suitcases in tow--all filled to the brim--by the end of the year, I had accumulated enough stuff to fill three more suitcases.

Luckily for me, my mother came to visit me while I was moving. And she, along with several strangers and my friend Katherine, helped me transport my things into my Minorcan apartment.

Though it may sound melodramatic, the truth is that the entire experience was traumatic. My bags were HEAVY, with the two biggest clocking in at nearly 100 pounds each. Trying to push, pull, shove all that crap around in the rain, over cobblestone, in and out of trains and until the hull of a ship was a Herculean task. All the while, I was trying to navigate my way through unfamiliar territory and give someone else a vacation.

When it was all said and done and I had unpacked everything in my apartment, I vowed to never put myself (or anyone else) through that again. As my year in Minorca came to an end, I unceremoniously trashed half my wardrobe--including things that I had owned for nearly ten years.  I had reduced my impedimenta down to the original three bags. And for my troubles, I was "rewarded" with a 400 euros surcharge for overweight baggage.

Once I returned home to New Jersey, I tried my best to purge. I gave all of my basic garbs to charity. And the rest I sold online.

I returned to Spain ten days ago, with one large suitcase and one carry on. Both were only half full with ample room and space for growth. The truth is I love clothes, and I love living abroad. But I can only have one at a time. If I choose to collect more things, I will have to be able to come to terms with discarding most of it should I chose to leave. As my blog is dedicated to ethical and eco-friendly fashion, this again causes a bit of conflict. Research for my blog has informed me that 85% of the things we buy end up in landfills, regardless of whether or not we donate them to charity.

But the reality is, in order to live my life the way I want to, I must make some tough choices. Carry the stuff, or take the flight? Expressing myself yet creating more trash. None of the choices are easy because they are the crux of who I perceive myself to be. Which means trying to stay fabulous while packing light.

Candace Fykes