What can I live without?
Most of my stuff, at least for a while.
I escaped last summer’s excessive heat by renting an apartment in Portumna, a small town in western Ireland.
I packed light, things I could layer: rayon pants, long- and short-sleeved T-shirts. Only what I could squeeze into a 21-inch pilot’s case. I’d be traveling with that, a violin slung over my shoulder, and a tote the size of a large purse.
“I can’t believe that’s all you’re taking,” my sister Coral exclaimed.
“It’s all I can carry.”
“You’re gonna be cold.”
She was right. I wore a lightweight pantsuit on the plane but lost the jacket before I left D/FW. I bought a sweatshirt at O’Hare.
My apartment proved scantly furnished, with comfortable leather sofa and love seat, dining table, beds, a bare minimum of sheets and towels, dishes and flatware, mugs and basic cookware.
I bought ice trays; a bath rug; a frying pan; a roasting pan and potholders; a clothes-drying rack, because the washing machine worked just fine, but I could never operate the dryer.
I refused to buy extraneous stuff I would just have to dispose of at the end of my stay. I debated, could I drink water or wine out of a coffee mug? I bought glasses. Would the bath rug suffice for doing yoga on the hard floors? I needed a throw rug.
I drew the line at decorative containers. I like to keep cosmetics and kitchen things organized, but I made do with the clear plastic baskets that tomatoes came in.
I kept telling myself, I have everything I need.
When Coral came to visit, she bought throw pillows for the living room. She mailed me a wall hanging, but the Irish postal service returned it to her in Austin.
The locals apologized about the weather: “We’re not having a proper summer.” That’s why I’d come, for a rude, improper, cool, rainy summer.
Why didn’t I bring a pair of jeans, my black boots, velour sweatpants, a heavy jacket? Oh, yes, because I couldn’t carry it all.
I have everything I need, but it’s at home.
I bought jeans, knit pants, a heavy jacket, a dressy jacket.
I spent my last day in Portumna donating almost everything I’d acquired to charitable organizations.
The real question is, can I lose my attachment? Specifically, my attachment to comfort?
Apparently not. But maybe I’ve loosened my stranglehold just a bit.