Saturday, January 05, 2008

A new human art.

This afternoon, I went over to running son's dad's house to help with the packing. The dad and his wife are very organized and philosophical packers, far more so than I am. They know excellent ways to pack everything, from shoes to socks to dress pants.

For instance, they believe in keeping a photocopy of documents (passport, birth certificate, immunization records) in each separate suitcase. They know how to roll socks and how to roll the garment bag. Shoes? each wrapped in a separate bag (so as not to mark the clothes or scuff each other), but put at the bottom of the bag, because they're weighty, and you don't want them weighing down the clothes, plus they form a base at the base of the bag. I did not pause to reflect how many times I have put shoes any old wherever in my bags. I do not have a philosophy of packing, but I could see how such orderly, considered packing might lead to other forms of order and consideration. So it was good running son had this tutelage and mentorship in the art of leaving this country, his friends and his family, to go to a foreign land.

Running son's dad went on an LDS mission to Argentina, Buenos Aires, back in the 70s. He lived through a coup and the craziness of the post-Peron years. It was a transformative experience for him in nearly every way. Today, I enjoyed watching running son and his dad transform chaos into order, every single thing he would need, just about, for two years into just three bags; seeing the dad teach the son a minor art, preparatory to the major one.

Things you need to pack carefully away when you're going to be gone for 2 years: all Nintendo systems and games. Choice concert and other important tee shirts. Utah Jazz player jerseys. Your various sports medals. Your dvds and cds. Your library card. Your old beat up belt.


  1. Aww. It makes me sad just to read about it. Packing for two years? Impossible.
    I think I have a plan for packing, but really I don't. We should take pictures of our bags just as we open them in NYC and compare. I will have a few things folded and I will have overpacked and I will have forgotten the one beautiful thing that would make my life complete.
    On the plus side, maybe I can buy a beautiful thing in NYC. Ya think?

  2. As I noted on my blog, I pack not so lightly. But I was bringing stuff from the 2 weeks in Salt Lake. I wish I could just buy clothes when I landed in a new city and then send them home or just discard them. I really hate trudging all this stuff back and forth. Why didn't I leave, for instance, half my wardrobe in Salt Lake? Because, as Dr. W suggests, I would have left the exact wrong thing.
    I'm thinking of you as your son packs and prepares to leave for two years. My mother-in-law pretends we're on a mission to Grand Rapids but at least that mission has vacation and breaks and visits. I hope these two years, at least the parts of them when you miss him, go quickly.

  3. What mission will you call yourself to this next two years? Perhaps this will make it seem easier, a project for yourself.



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