I left home with a duffel bag and a backpack. The duffel bag and the backpack looked different, back there in my bedroom. I sat with them at the foot of my bed under a wall of my knickknacks and listened to my sister plan a romantic-sounding “tiny house,” like in the television shows. I researched minimalist wardrobe. I said something predictable and privileged about “simplifying,” as I made three piles of what to bring and what to keep at home and what to give away.
In somebody else’s living room and propped against a futon, my duffel bag and backpack were two bloated ends of driftwood on some shore. No potted bamboo stalks or aloe vera plant occasionally tended. No secondhand bookshelf of novels I promised to read but hadn’t gotten around to yet. No hummingbird feeder in the kitchen window or heights and dates recorded on the wall or summer soundtrack of the neighborhood’s lawnmowers. Just a duffel bag and a backpack.