Jessica Ma

Journalist. Poet. Hopefully, city-bound.

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The Calm Before the Storm

My almost-useless skill for Tetris came in handy today. With only two days (!) left until I leave for Paris, I have finally managed to finish packing. My entire life for the next four months fits neatly into two suitcases (one large, one small), a backpack, and a purse. Not too shabby, considering this is what I had to work with — and that’s not even everything!


(Everyone says I’m overpacked. I know, but I also change outfits like my siblings change the family mini-van’s radio station, so you see my problem.)

Of course, when you’re faced with the daunting task of packing up two seasons’ worth of clothes, you’re faced with the question, “What do I NEED?” And when you’re a certified procrastinator like I am, you wind up side-tracked, excavating crammed closets and messy drawers. The sudden need to rank my possessions by their usefulness, combined with my bad habit of making New Year’s resolutions, led to me sifting through a box of movie ticket stubs and old birthday cards for an hour. I was determined: clean up your room, clean up your life. Do I really need to hang on to this ticket stub? Of course I do, this is from the special screening of The Wolf of Wall Street! I saw Leo DiCaprio! Yes, but you saw it with your ex. Okay, but Leo DiCaprio!

My problem is, I’m a sentimentalist. I save doodles on Post-Its from my sister, gifts from old relationships, Christmas cards from relatives whose names and faces I can never match. I collect junk and never display it. I have half-finished scrapbooks that have more stickers and fancy paper than photos.

But this time, when I sorted through and unceremoniously threw out all of the crap in my room, it didn’t feel like another stage in a cycle. The packing made me realize that I’ll survive in France without my favorite book from when I was 10 and my mish-mosh collection of pin badges. I’m sure I’ll be fine without them when I return.