Life in Two Suitcases Under 40kg


Flight to Italy tomorrow morning, early. Taxi called for 5 a.m. Passports, e-ticket, wallet, and dollars to exchange. A small plastic egg stuffed with a plastic bag from Ryan Air, just in case. Mini umbrella. Keys that you won’t be needing for over a month.

Life, scattered throughout the bedsit, separated into several piles: clothing, electronics, soap, gifts, books. The soap pile threatens to engulf everything else, including the clothing. Because that’s how you roll. If it smells good, you need it. End of story.

Clothes are on the bottom – flat, not folded or rolled. The smaller bags are packed inside the bigger bags. The electrical items are wrapped in thick rolls of socks. The cards and letters are slipped into the suitcase lid: Happy 30th. Happy Holidays. I miss you. Come to our wedding. A drawing made by a student in Japan two years ago that somehow stowed away to Dublin. The flat items – a notebook, a tiny tray – are slotted into the sides of the suitcase. Same with the shoes. Same with the book – just one, the purple one with your name in it. The others will come in the second round. So will the Vietnamese leaf painting. So will the bathrobe. This trip here – Phase One – is just for the essentials.

There are only six other books. There are only five pairs of shoes. Rule one of being a serial expat: buy nothing. Rule two: Sell or donate the stuff you buy when you break the Buy Nothing rule. Rule three: Books and shoes are instant death. Resist, and when it’s time to move on you, too, will be smug as a Cheshire Cat. Even if part of you longs for such stationary things as a beautiful tea set like the one your classmate has, the poet from Donegal, the one she served you on when you went to her house for tea. Patterned Irish china, delicate as old leaves.

Life disappears into the two suitcases. Under 40kg or not – the attendant at the airline counter will decide tomorrow. But you think you’ve done it.

A pint of Guinness to help you sleep. You know a thing or two by this stage. Don’t you?

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