We've rarely bought anything since we started traveling full time two years ago.
By necessity we've become very aware of how much space is in our backpacks, which on any given day varies from "absolutely none" to "less than none". If we buy anything it means we have to get rid of something. Which means we are wearing the same clothes for the last two years.
If you meet us for the first time and only know us for a week, you'll think we are very practical travelers. Approaching week two and you'll start to see the clever repeats and layers and combinations of the same articles of clothing. You are likely to pick up on the claw tear in my single pair of "nice pants" compliments of Poppy, the swiping cat we sat for in Jerusalem.
I now get kinda excited about finding a hole in my pants because it means I will need to buy a new pair. Of course this comes with another set of problems. Where am I going to get new pants!? Not that pants are hard to find. I mean, people wear them the world over. It's true. They do. No, the problem is that the pants need to be machine washable, outdoorsey without looking like a noob, wrinkle free, lightweight and appropriate for 3 of four seasons. If I sound like Goldilocks, you aren't far off.
This anxiety also shows up when we are given a gift. I look at it and my second thought is "whatamigonnadowiththis"! This is why I have two scarves. One I bought in Laos and one that was a gift from our friend in Scotland after our visit there. I can't part with either of them. They sit in the bottom of my bag along with two pairs of thick wool socks and some mittens Jill knitted for me. All just waiting until we find cooler temperatures. Whenever that will be.
Istanbul is one in a long list of places we've visited over the last two years that have a legacy of world class craft. We've found rugs and towels and pillows and lamps galore. All for a home we don't have anymore. It's fun to decorate homes we may inhabit in the future, but it can be tough. We don't know if, when or where we will settle down.
On occasion we will pull the trigger and buy something we love, but more often than not we pass on the opportunity only to regret it later. We know we can't carry it back. Back to where? So we occasionally ship little bundles to friends to hold for us until we see them again.
Istanbul was difficult for us because there is SO much art and antiques and crafted everything. A trip to the Grand Bazaar revealed a sweet little hand hammered copper coffee pot that Jill encouraged me to buy. We gave it to a friend who was heading back to the states to store for us. I know I won't see it for some time, but when I do it will flood me with memories of Istanbul.
This is the power of objects, right? Isn't that why we spend our lives acquiring them? We give them this tremendous power by gazing upon them and using them for years and having them in our proximity, but as soon as we are gone, that connection is lost and the power begins to fade. The details and the memory and the context surrounding that object don't hold sway over others in the same way. This is the limitation of objects - they can't transfer their power to others.
It's so human isn't it? This desire to give ourselves over to objects, to fill them with meaning and assuming they will last after we are gone. We sold most of our possessions in part as a reaction to this most basic human need, but are frequently drawn back into the desire to own something nice. To find an object that so perfectly reflects our needs and aspirations. Even though we know we can't.
But still, we persist. We go to markets and look at the veggies when we don't have a kitchen to cook in. We shop (and recently bought!) Turkish rugs for a floor that exists somewhere in our future, shimmering on the horizon like a water starved mirage.
And that's okay, isn't it? To spin a cotton candy future in the ether instead of indulging every whim? To constantly imagine what our lives could be like while at the same time trying to live them?