As I packed for college and tried to decide what I did and did not need, I found myself reflecting and thinking quite a lot about the last 17 years of my life and wondering how I was going to bring it all with me. These are the two dilemmas I faced and what they made me realize.
The first dilemma was which clothes to bring, of course. I need enough that I have variety, but not so many that they don't fit in the room. That's a hard balance to strike, as many of you likely know. I found myself sitting on my bedroom floor with bins of clean clothes all around me, Criminal Minds playing on my laptop, and three bins in front of me labelled "warm," "cold" and "everything else" respectively. From the bins of clean clothes, I had to decide which mattered enough to me to bring. I came to realize that many of the clothes I own have a story behind them. One was given to me by my godmother from Montana, another from my dad when he visited Alaska, and yet another from camp just a few weeks ago. I was sifting through clothes, either choosing a bin for them to be packed into or tossing them on my bed to be folded and put back later, and I had to seriously consider which memories I wanted to bring with me. Did I want to remember the turtle sanctuary I visited this summer or did I want to remember when my dad went to Alaska for a conference? I had to decide which memory was more important. (Of course, what the shirts looked like was also a key factor.) Eventually, both ended up getting packed. But there were times when I had to choose which memory meant more to me, or whether either was worth the space in my boxes.
The second dilemma I faced was just today when I was packing my books and other things for decorating and just having in my room. For books, I had to consider primarily which I had already read (for those automatically got priority) and then secondarily how willing and eager I was to read the book again. Because, for obvious reasons, there is no reason to pack a book I likely won't read a second time. This was a nice journey through memory lane because I got to look up and down my bookshelf, carefully considering each title, and remember the world that each had taken me to and the journey I had embarked upon with it. In terms of decorations, the first thing I thought about was pictures. I had to decide which framed photos I would, and could, bring and which posters to pack. This, again, was difficult. I had to decide which photos of my and my friends or family were worth the space in my box of memories and worth the space on my desk in my dorm. I also had to trace back through the years as I looked at each poster and figure out which of those trips down memory lane did I want to take every day and which was more of a holiday kind of a thing, something I only want to do a few times a year. The second thing I considered was stuffed animals, as childish as that may sound. I like to have a few fluffy friends on my bed to comfort me when I'm dying studying for final exams, you know. So, of the ones sitting on my bed, I had to decide which I wanted to bring, because there was no way my bed in my dorm would fit them all and me. This was especially difficult because a number of them had been given to me as gifts, and I had to choose which were worth the space. (Most of them ended up being packed because I simply couldn't make those decisions.) The final thing that I had to decide upon in terms of decoration was just the miscellaneous items like mementos and notebooks and such. I went around my room and took inventory of what was there. I ended up grabbing a couple tiny glass pieces I had from a backstreet in Venice when my family visited a few years ago, a stone turtle I bought off a boat-boy in the Caribbean, a fake book from my grandpa to store things in, and a few other trinkets whose memories hold a special place in my heart.
Having to pick apart my memories and decide which were most important, having to rank them from highest to least priority, was harder than I had expected. I had expected to know what I wanted to bring the moment I started packing, or even before that. Instead, this got left almost until last because I unconsciously was dreading having to make these choices. Thankfully, if I get a month into college and realize I really want a certain stuffed animal that I left at home or another memento that's sitting on the chest of drawers in my room, I can always ask my parents to bring it to parents weekend.