and i am starting to get nervous, a kind of childish don’t-blow-this! anxiety that i haven’t felt since, well, i was a child. also starting to have wild, desperate wants, such as finding an expert on 18th century postal systems or some way to handle a justaucorps from that time. this trip, i must keep reminding myself, is about locations first: locations, layouts, distances. the touch and feel of stone and metal. textures of wallpaper and wainscoting. it is about bringing the backdrops into focus. anything else is gravy, and gravy can’t be forced; gravy just happens.
i am, however, proud of myself that my packing list is already close to joan didion’s. didion packs well and writes better; i went through something of a Didion Phase in college (and i suspect i’m one of many). i have always wanted to travel more, and more lightly, than i normally do: to move through the world with relative ease. this trip is my first solo, personal outing in many years; to find myself instinctively packing and planning just as my younger self daydreamed i would? it is very satisfying.
(i am caving a bit in that i’m using a wheelie, but only because i did not have the budget to spring for a tom bihn tri-star. next trip, right? right.)
ms. didion’s packing list, from the white album:
To Pack and Wear:
2 jerseys or leotards
1 pullover sweater
2 pair shoes
nightgown, robe slippers
bag with: shampoo, toothbrush and paste, Basis soap, razor, deodorant, aspirin, prescriptions, Tampax, face cream, powder, baby oil
2 legal pads and pens
This is a list which was taped inside my closet door in Hollywood during those years when I was reporting more or less steadily. The list enabled me to pack, without thinking, for any piece I was likely to do. Notice the deliberate anonymity of costume: in a skirt, a leotard, and stockings, I could pass on either side of the culture. Notice the mohair throw for trunk-line flights (i.e. no blankets) and for the motel room in which the air conditioning could not be turned off. Notice the bourbon for the same motel room. Notice the typewriter for the airport, coming home: the idea was to turn in the Hertz car, check in, find an empty bench, and start typing the day’s notes.