The author Tim O’Brien grew up in Worthington, MN thirty miles from my home town. Three years older than I, our paths never crossed. I read his original short story, “The Things They Carried,” in the summer fiction issue of Esquire Magazine. It provides a personal glimpse of soldiers’ lives in Vietnam. I reread the book of short stories by the same name several times. One time for an anthropology class on artifacts and another time when it was assigned reading in one of Daughter’s classes.
Our life and travel seems to have transitioned during our two day stopover in Abu Dhabi. After almost six months in Europe and european Asia, we now find ourselves in the humble jumble of Indian life. To mark this change, I reviewed everything I packed back in July. I found seven items that were never used, not even once.
As expected, there’s technical stuff for computers: USB hub, memory card adapter, Chinese nintendo cartridge. We didn’t have to open any cans nor measure anything. The folding scissors turns out to be redundant as we have a sewing kit and a multitool. The bombiila (metal straw with filter end for drinking loose leaf tea) represents the few things that were just too hard to give away. When we downsized, it was easy to give up books that could be replaced electronically if I really desired to read them again. The treasures that were unique and found in uncommon lands held the strongest grip on me.
These artifacts help me put in perspective what really is necessary for living. Some things that accompany us were just too new to discard. Now, they are used and have served a purpose. I’m glad I had them but happy to move on. The adventure continues.