Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Traveling Light

Almost four years ago, I moved to California with nothing but a suitcase, a laptop, and a cat. Today I’m going up to Oakland for a week of catsitting while Debbie and Alan are away, and I am taking:

  • One smallish backpack, containing all the things I’d usually carry in a purse (wallet, keys, pillbox, EpiPen, comb, hair ties, change, pens, unread mail, and PDA crammed with calendar, notes, addresses, data, games, and 17 classic books not in copyright), plus a small portable cross-stitch project (and the usual extra fabric, floss, needles, and scissors that always accumulate), half a dozen books, cell phone, notebook, fountain pen, 12-button ivory cotton evening gloves for sleeping in, and several random pieces of jewelry I took off while carrying the backpack

  • One large carry-on suitcase full of clothes for work and play (too big to fit under an airplane seat, but small enough for the overhead compartment)

  • One satchel crammed with books for research and pleasure (this despite the thousands of books in the home of my hosts)

  • One laptop case, containing computer, power adapter, external hard drive, various cables, a set of large padded earphones (much more comfortable than earbuds), a USB charger/synching cable for the PDA, an inch-thick stack of papers I need to work on, two or three small notebooks, and several movies on DVD

  • One CPAP case, containing a CPAP, humidifier, hose, cord, mask, peak-flow meter (for my asthma, to see if I’m breathing), and a couple of books I couldn’t fit in elsewhere

Crammed in here and there are my digital camera in case I go exploring, a variety of teas, a few staple groceries, and several Tupperware containers I borrowed from Debbie and am now returning. I didn’t bring any art supplies, and the music I have with me is all on the laptop. Really, when you think about it, I am traveling light.

I’ll be buying most of my groceries when I get up there, because I refuse to miss the chance to shop at the fabulous Berkeley Bowl. This legendary independent grocery has the single best produce section I have ever seen. Yes, even better than Wegmans, although not by much. (The deciding factor was the presence of a spectacular range of fresh berries, including gooseberries, marionberries, and three kinds of currants.) The prices are insanely low, too. I do still miss Wegmans. Even their smallest store is more spacious than the narrow, crowded aisles of the Berkeley Bowl.

Also, the Berkeley Bowl doesn’t provide the entertainment Wegmans does. That’s the only store I’ve ever seen that provides customers with electronic scales that let you weigh your own produce, punch in the handy code, and print your very own scannable label with exact pricing.

While I’m gone, I’ll have a three-day weekend for writing—although I’ll also be spending some time with out-of-state relatives. That should be a great pleasure. Maybe Uncle Ben and Aunt Elva will persuade my mother to come for a visit. If they do, I’m sure she’ll show up with only a couple of suitcases.

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