The Buffalo News: My View

Kristen Skeet: I’m happiest living with the bare essentials - 7-25-16

I love to travel. I’ll go just about anywhere, for any reason, as long as it is to somewhere else.

Paradoxically, I’m also a homebody – some might even say a hermit – and a great creature of habit.

Because of this, it took me a long time to realize I enjoy traveling, and especially enjoy traveling alone.

I was 30 years old before I took a trip on my own. Now, I’ve become a happy, nomadic homebody. I stay in the same hotels in the cities I go to and quickly make a home out of my hotel room when I get there. I eat at the same places.

It’s gotten to the point now where I feel more at home in these cities and these hotel rooms than I do in my actual home.

My creativity is bolstered when I am away and, as a writer, unimpeded inspiration is essential to me.

Without the muse, I have nothing.

This morning, as I woke at home, in my own bed, after a weekend away, feeling claustrophobic, lethargic and uninspired, it finally dawned on me why.

When I travel, I take with me only the bare essentials. Enough clothes for the days I will be gone, one pair of flip flips or boots (depending on the season), a toothbrush, toothpaste, hair brush, my vitamins, and my hair products to keep my frizzy mop in check.

Indeed, I do sometimes pack too much for the length of the trip at hand, but it is still only the bare essentials. My entire life for the length of the trip fits into a small roller suitcase, and for the most part, I live out of the suitcase even after I’m home.

While traveling, there is no clutter to impede my inspiration and peace of mind. The reminders of my past that are on display, and tucked in dusty boxes in closets throughout my apartment, do not follow me on my trips.

The heaps of clothing I will never wear, piling up, seemingly ever higher, in every corner of my apartment do not accompany me while I’m away.

I live alone, yet by the weekend my dishwasher is overflowing with dirty dishes I’ve accumulated throughout the week. Even my email inbox is filled to the brim with junk. Every day, 50 or more junk emails pop up in my inbox. I can’t keep up with deleting them anymore.

Everything in my life, actual and digital, is stifled by junk, meaningless junk that I’ve acquired and accumulated over the last decade or so.

So, this weekend, I will purge my life and my apartment of everything but the bare essentials. If it’s not something I would take with me on a trip, or not handmade by my mother or grandmothers, it’s going away.

The Salvation Army will get much better use out of the clothes I’ll never wear than I will by continuing to let them pile up. I don’t need six or eight of every plate, bowl, glass and utensil. Two of each will more than suffice.

I will go through my email and unsubscribe from every junk email and then delete them, although that is probably a lost cause by now. In fact, I think I will just create a new address and use that from here on out.

The thought alone of this upcoming purging has brought me a sense of peace, and I’m grateful. I love to travel, and will continue to do so as often as possible, but it sure would be nice to feel at home, at home, once again.

Click to read previous My View editorial: Obsession with weight is dragging me down