[mood| warm coffee buzz on a cloudy day]

[music| Shana Cleveland – Night of the Worm Moon]

I’ve come to realize something in these past six weeks abroad: I’m a horrible backpacker, because I love clothes.

Minimalism is good. It forces you to pare down, bare down, get down to the dirty essentials. It’s what separates the boys from the men…and the light-wash denim with the holes in the knees that are high-rise bootleg cut from the light-wash denim with the holes in the knees that are boyfriend fit.

How many outfits can one person create from the precise geometry of an artfully ripped knee hole? (The question Dylan never asked us, but totally should’ve.) Is that preferred hemline literally worth its weight?

When the closet is shrunk down to 50 litres and you’re charged with lugging it around, you start living with these existential questions in an entirely different way. And the answers are all blowin’ in the wind…

Still, I sadly have to admit it: I miss having style.

I miss the way it would feel to walk out somewhere with the confidence of knowing that I looked good because I had very deliberately chosen all the pieces that worked together to create that look.

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but suitcase living is its rotten stepmom. A zip pouch limit on the means to express yourself.

An outfit is so much more than a shirt and maybe some pants. It’s at once a marriage and measure of mood and personal taste. It’s a declaration: This is who I am and how I want to be seen, right here and right now. And a good one lets you project that self-assured energy out into the universe, reeling in respect and opportunity like magnetic magic.

Travel arrives at that solution with an inverse equation: The confidence—and ability—to move seamlessly through any number of cultures, climates, and weather events starts with acknowledging these outside factors first, before working back toward the way you choose to cover your body in light of them.

Problem solving for all those practical matters leaves little remainder for a personal touch. And on a trip that will span from the Hague to the Himalayas, through seven months or more of winter and rainy season and across beaches, cities, and uncut paths, there’s even less room for superfluous flair.

Which brings me to my current wardrobe: one pair of jeans (medium-wash, no holes), three pairs of leggings, one sweater, one scarf, one pair of shorts, two pairs of light-material pants for hot, sticky climates, two long-sleeve shirts, two button-ups and two tank tops for layering, a t-shirt shouting out California and one promoting Princeton University in case I feel like openly courting a conversation, a bathing suit, one ‘nice’ shirt for any weird occasions when I may need to ‘go out,’ one long skirt, one sundress, two jackets – one for rain and one for warmth, boots, sneakers, and sandals. And all that is probably a luxury of goods that may yet be further streamlined. Editing doesn’t only exist in writing.

To be left with such a limited range of ways to express yourself is strange. But even stranger is that the sum total of your options–how you’ll look, to yourself and to others, and how you’ll feel–is dictated by the prevailing mood of just a few days.

And mine was a strange one for sure.

While packing for this tour, I was going through some shit, simultaneously sorting the rest of my clothes to be sent to three separate locations, plus loading the rest of my life into a 6×10 storage space and the hatchback trunk of a 2012 Prius, among a few thousand other things.

Exhaustion ruled and emotions swelled and I couldn’t channel them all toward release – not on a page, not through an amp, not heated up and dispelled on a long run or workout. The levee burst when I opened my closet door and flooded my bedroom with an ocean of fabric and color, my personality dismantled and floating, disjointed, through the mess like the debris of a shipwreck.

From this sea of synergistic possibility I plucked missed opportunity, each item tucked away one less way to see or be seen for months on end. Each beautiful thing I consigned to the dark corner of storage a part of me that would likewise not see the light of day until my return.

In so many ways, my fate has been sealed by the whims of that weird week back in May. And yet, it presents a worthy challenge for my present-day being: To accept where I am, and what I have, now. To make it work. To get creative. To lose the ego. To give up the need to control every detail. To search even deeper for that comfort and confidence. To find myself anew, every day, in the same old clothes.