In A Staring Contest With My Suitcase

Selena Harris - Ecuador


August 23, 2018

I never have been a master at planning things; organizing, timeliness, finding things, certainty, opening bananas on the first try, early mornings, life, etc. This week I finally began packing my bag (shortly after hyperventilating upon seeing many of my Ecuador fellows fully packed). I broke out the biggest bag I could find, printed out that pack list, sat down on my floor, cracked my knuckles, and proceeded to do nothing.

Don't get me wrong, I want to pack. Nothing would relieve my stress more than zipping up that bag and being ready- knowing that I am ready- but I sit down in front of the suitcase and suddenly I can't stop looking at all the empty space. Now sure, part of this dilemma in timeliness is spurring from the actual difficulty I have finding things. Unfortunately, the bliss of summer has washed over my bedroom like a tidal wave, and most of my belongings have been buried in a shallow, above ground grave (let me know if you find my favorite pair of overalls). Yet still, I find that the literal packing issues are the least of my worries.
Yes, a Target run; Yes, another Amazon shipping; Yes, another to-do list; Yes, back to Target; Yes, 3 more loads of laundry; Yes, (believe it or not) back to Target again; Yes, 1001 things to do, but somehow…I don't know. I think that formalities are simply a distraction from the greater truth behind why my half-packed suitcase is still staring at me as I write this. Packing my things is packing up my life. It is like attempting to pack up everything that has ever been good to me and leave behind everything that hasn't. It is putting two things into my bag and noticing 4 things that I have to leave behind. Four books that I love, 5 family members to kiss goodbye, 6 bottles of paint I never emptied out, 7 friends I hope won't disappear from my life, 8 things I never said to people.
"Selena, are you excited for your 'trip' ??". OF COURSE I am excited. I'm goofy excited!! Like, poop-your-pants-on-the-plane excited. But like every feeling of genuine joy in life, it comes with an underlying melancholy feeling that we must choose how to deal with. For me, dealing with this sadness has consisted of hourly packing and unpacking of my quick dry towel so I can dry my tears as I dissect the pieces of the life I have always known here. Because as much as I wanted to leave it behind, no one is safe of uncertainty. I continue to remind myself that I am strong enough for this journey, that I deserve it, that I have earned it. That even if I uh…"pack wrong", that I won't let people down.
So as I depart, I send these last messages of closure (more for my own comfort than anything else): To my room, I'll miss burning incense and dancing to Fleetwood Mac at 1 AM; To my chunky dog, please stick around until I'm back and don't throw up on my rug; To my siblings, 3 of you makes it 3x harder to go; To my peers and teachers from school, thank-you for giving me thick-skin (I needed it); To my parents, I will tell you I can't wait to leave, but I really mean I can't wait to make you proud; To the dog next door, I won't miss you dude…you bark all the time and wake me up from sweet dreams; To my best friends, "What a long strange trip it's been (in Forman's basement)." To my future fellows, I can't wait to connect and explore with such beautiful people.
Anyways…I gotta go pack.

Selena Harris