Things I Left Behind


This essay was a creative-writing assignment in the second week of ENGL S247: Travel Writing.

These are some of the things I brought with me to Auvillar:

  • Five bars of Ghirardelli’s semi-sweet baking chocolate. (They get me through rough patches on the road.)
  • Two Nokia Lumia phones, one unlocked and the other not. (The first functions with European SIM cards, the other has offline maps of Paris and the Midi-Pyrenées.)
  • Two Texas Instruments graphical calculators. (They aren’t for me; I’m bringing them to my high-school Physics teacher, who ordered them from eBay.)

I used to haul an actual TI-83 in the sleeve of my suitcase, and a clip-on guitar capo with tuner, and more library books than I could conceivably read, even after I had a Kindle full of Austen and Bradbury and Sapkowski and Lovecraft. Before freshman year, I packed a fluffy grey bathrobe and not one, but two formal suits. After freshman year, I brought with me a soft narwhal plushie. Since I packed with the “throw in whatever seems pertinent” philosophy, my suitcase would always reach the upper limit for airline check-in bags. This would cause problems: one May, I had to go through security in a sweatshirt, a winter coat and a ski hat just to get my suitcase to permissible weight.

But for the Auvillar trip, all the items I brought fit in a single backpack and a small suitcase I could conceivably bring on-board as carry-on. I prepared: I wrote up a list of items, I compromised, I even mock-packed two months in advance. I did pack Bananagrams, but Cards Against Humanity had to stay home. My dad threw a minor party in celebration of my packing like a grown-up.

I’m proud of myself, but I’m also a little sad. With my pre-meditated utilitarian packing list, I can’t transpose any old string instrument; I can’t over-dress for a Leslie Jamison dinner; and I can’t graph 2x3 - .3x2 + 6 at will, at least not without ripping the eBay shipment box.

These are some of the things I didn’t bring with me to Auvillar:

  • A bubble blower.
  • A collection of Discworld novels, whose increasingly silly plots track Terry Pratchett’s accelerating descent into the throes of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Childhood.