Living Without Stuff

i came over to europe with only those things that would fit comfortably in my (large) backpack. well, fit comfortably isn’t exactly correct because it was totally over-stuffed and weighed more than even alex’s bag and huuuurt if i wore it for over an hour. ouch.

(below, me and said backpack in gimmelwald, switzerland, 2008)


but i am now settled in a place: České Budějovice for the time being. it’s nice to live somewhere. to have plants (my small “herb garden”) and make baked goods. to have people over for tea or dinner. this is living as usual and it’s nice.

since i’ve stopped moving around in january of this year i have tried hard not to accumulate STUFF. i’ve had to add a few items of clothing to my wardrobe to be comfortable in the four weeks of straight 98 degrees we had this summer, or maybe a new blouse to make my autumn wardrobe (way!!) more exciting. on the rare occasion that i do buy something, i try to get either small things or things that can be used up, like food or cosmetics. i have developed a particularly rabid LUSH addiction, which is okaaaayyy because i know that i can use pretty soaps, perfumes, and shampoos throughout the year while traveling… and they’re natural and delicious smelling.


sometimes it can be so liberating to have no stuff, especially when everything you own is in your backpack and you’re trekking around scotland or something. but sometimes it’s just a reminder of how temporary my life here might be. now that i’m facing another winter season, i especially miss my coats. I LOVE COATS. i have probably twenty at home in washington. although it’s so tempting to add to my extremely meager wardrobe, i try not to. but you try wearing the same 7 t-shirts, 3 long-sleeved shirts, and 3 pairs of jeans that you brought with you over a year ago and see how you like it! it’s quite hard. and one pair of shoes for 80% of the year isn’t easy. (alex says that the czech women are always staring at my boots…. they are definitely not what is typically accepted as ‘lady fashion’ here)

the one huge plus is that i’ve had to get really creative with mixing and matching things i already own. fortunately most of my clothing is in a similar color palette so thinking of new ways to wear something isn’t so hard. and getting dressed when you don’t have many options is pretty easy– it ends the age-old “stand in front of your closet for five minutes” ordeal that plagues so many of us ladies.


i wish i could end this saying that i’ve realized i don’t really need my stuff, but since i’m settled here not out on the road, i have to admit that not having my favorite stuff around does make me slightly uncomfortable and that fact is always lurking somewhere in the back of my mind. it really makes you think: are we fully living our life without our stuff? or do we need stuff to comfort us and help to represent who we are? is home where your stuff is?

for more thoughts about stuff, check out this classic carlin bit– you won’t regret it.