Selling all of my belongings has changed the way I see things and being back on familiar ground has made those things come into focus.
I have always been someone who loves clothes, and shoes, and cosmetics, and basically… stuff and who especially loves a bargain and my closet reflected that.
So going from 100 hundred pairs of shoes to 10, and 25 pairs of jeans down to 2, was quite an adjustment.
Over the past few months though, I’ve actually come to love the lightness of not having a closet (and kitchen and bathroom, and bedroom…) full of things weighing me down. And although it took some time to get used my very diminished options of things to wear, I really don’t miss a thing that I got rid of.
I’m not sure the Englishman has been quite as quick to adapt; after seeing me in the same oversized grey fleece for a month straight in Ramallah, (which happened to belong to him) he tried to delicately broach the subject by saying he had “seen a different side of me” on that visit.
Now that my life has become so transient, I have come to think of things in terms of how much I can comfortably carry. As much as I may love that divine winter coat in a shop window, or gorgeous pair of Italian leather boots, the real question is: will they fit in my luggage? And the answer is usually no.
But nearly six months of nonstop travel along with some very hard wearing of the few things I own and lots of crude hand washing (I accidentally used floor cleaner on my delicates on one unfortunate occasion) have made a few additions necessary.
Compounding my need for some new things was my very first bra fitting. After close to 30 years on this planet I had never actually had a proper bra fitting.
With a new appreciation for being able to communicate freely with people, I took a trip to Nordstroms in downtown Portland (I was told it is the place to be measured in this city) where I discovered I have been wearing the wrong size my entire life, so promptly acquired some new ones.
Luckily, everything – with the exception of wine – is cheaper in the US than in France, and Portland, where my parents live, is a good place to shop. So I have been sifting through the Rose City’s many thrift stores adding a few new items to my now tiny and frayed wardrobe.
As far as material things go, there isn’t all that much that I have missed from the US while in France.
Globalization has made almost everything available pretty much everywhere and it seems that a lot of the trends here in the US actually seem to be trying to capture a little of the old world European style in a way.
The shift in popularity from the organic/vegan/raw, diet to the organic/local/meaty one seems to have been swift and complete and menus here are starting to resemble the rich, meat heavy French fare I have become accustomed to seeing in Nice (being a vegetarian, neither is particularly suited to my dietary tastes).
You can’t throw a stone in Portland without hitting a menu full of pork belly and bone marrow and cow tongue.
But there are some things I have craved from home over these past few months that I just couldn’t find in France or Palestine.
Mexican food is a big one. I did manage to find one little Mexican place in Nice, but at €15 for a burrito, I’d prefer to have it served sans the brie and a little guacamole would go a long way.
I will be stocking up on a few items to bring back with me. Sriracha is at the top of that list. The spicy garlicky sauce has not made its way into Nice’s grocery store aisles yet so I will be sourcing my own.
I know its silly to buy American cosmetics when France is famous for its luxurious, high end products, but there are a few things I just can’t find there.
And I am building up a collection of good books in English to populate my French bookshelves with upon returning. The selection is limited in Nice and being on my own most of the time, I have been tearing through books at an impressive clip.
But just because I can buy anything and everything at drastically reduced prices here, I am trying not to.
One of the best things to come of this of this whole experience so far, have been the changes I’ve seen in myself. And breaking the ties with material things has been a big part of it.
There is a lot to be said for living simply, but sometimes it takes a seismic life shift to be able to see the benefits.