I unpack my suitcase, finally, slowly, after a week of avoiding this last admission that the trip is done. As each item emerges, I try to remember if it was worn in those last few days, after that last batch of laundry, before arriving in Chicago. What comes back to me are smells of dust, hotel, honey, airplane, memories.
These pants are still rolled up at the ankles from the last walk through Kampala.
This skirt – the one I wore every other day – is clean but wrinkled.
These jeans are crisp from the air of Istanbul.
My individual baggies of soap, headphones, socks, cough drops, and breakfast bars remind me of another reason I like to travel. Everything is compact, available. Everything you need is in a compartment with a zipper – and if it isn’t, you’re fine without it. No searching through files or dresser drawers or stacks of bills. No clutter. You head out for the day, knowing that there is a place to go and something will happen, and you have everything you might need for that day in a 3-foot radius.
This shirt: the drums.
This shirt: the river.
This shirt: the pineapple.
It’s like a treasure chest from the past – the past of only a week ago, but time has been strange lately. It feels like months.
This scarf: the spice market.
This sweater: the tea.
These gloves: the mosque.
This skirt: the hike, the flowers, the trees.
I don’t want to wash anything.
I want to fold everything back up and put it in the suitcase, so it’s packed again and ready to go.