Leaving it all behind

Still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that in a week I’ll be in Nepal. Soon I’ll be in the Khumbu region of the Himalayas, on a group trip to Everest Base Camp with adventure legend Leo LeBon, the man who helped open the region to trekking 40 years ago. I look forward to the fine camaraderie and also to the simplicity of trail life: the stark mountain aesthetics of rock faces and delicate arêtes, the simple meals of dahl, the earth-scent of sandlewood incense.

In the meantime, I’m in the flurry of preparation, contending with the gale-force stress of my to-do list. Though I grasp about for one big project that will get me on-the-road, the truth is it’s accomplishing an assemblage of little things that will get me out of here: procuring extra passport photos, balling up my wool trekking socks, making sure I pack along toothpaste and sturdy shoe-laces.

In that vein, yesterday I went shopping for a suitcase at Costco. Now that I travel with a 50 lb. paragliding wing on my back, it’s time to concede that I need something with wheels to carry all the other essentials. As I walked down the imposing aisles of 40-pack soap, buckets of vitamins, and dog-food-by-the-ton, I chastised myself for not being a better garage-saler. Had I thought of it earlier, I could have spent my Saturday mornings ferreting out a perfectly good used suitcase with wheels and not supporting this bad American habit of buying everything new.

I vow to take this as a lesson and start garage-saling now: looking for the three-speed fan that I might need next August, the glasses I’ll need at my next margarita party. But where will I store all of it?

After wandering around Costco like a lost child, I came across a good aquamarine Kirkland suitcase. I lifted it off the shelf and rolled it down the aisle, wondering how it is that the Kirkland Corporation manages to make everything from suitcases to fish taco sauce. I arrived to the register filled with despair. A massive line of couples were cued up and holding vigil over carts stacked high with plastic-wrapped bulk crap. Was I being melodramatic, or did we all look depressed? Like a bunch of upright cadavers in an Adbusters nightmare.

I went out to the parking lot, loaded my new suitcase, and fired up my car to continue on with my typical American day of driving around and shopping, checking my cell phone and email along the way. At home now, I sort through my heaps of cute dresses, my shelves of books, and assortment of gadgets, culling only what will fit in my suitcase.

When I get to Nepal, all this stuff will feel far far away.

I won’t miss it.