Yesterday, I had the following conversation.
Friend: I’d like to go to Nepal.
Me: Let’s go trekking in Nepal!
That night I thought, could I actually go trekking in Nepal? After all, I do have a sort of cat-like appreciation for comfort. I like to curl up with a blanket and read Calvino, or watch Cold Comfort Farm one more time. I like going to the Museum of Fine Arts and having a banana split. (You’ve never tasted a banana split like the ones they make in the new café, in the American Wing. It is the apotheosis of banana splits. There are caramelized bits in there, and the cherries are steeped in brandy. It’s most definitely a banana split for adults.)
But that appreciation for comfort comes from the same place as an instinct that is almost opposite to it: the instinct to travel light. The place is Soviet-era Hungary. I think friends of mine who were born in the Soviet Union or any of the Soviet bloc countries will agree with this: even after you left, it infused your childhood. You were taught certain ways of looking at the world that you could either accept or rebel against, but either way they became a fundamental part of who you are. So for example, I was taught that comfort was not important. I rebelled against that particular lesson. I decided that comfort was important to me, that I was going to be comfortable when I could. But I was also taught to travel light, not to have too many possessions, not to care too much about the ones I had, because possessions could be lost. At any moment, one might have to flee the country.
So I think I would actually do rather well, trekking in Nepal. I would be comfortable when I could, but I would travel light, sleep where I had to, eat what I was given, carrying what I needed. And taking it all in, because the greatest luxuries are new experiences.
The notion of traveling light made me think about my Christmas presents. This was the only one I asked for:
It’s a bracelet from the Museum of Fine Arts, and as you’ve probably already guessed, it’s based on Monet’s waterlily paintings. There’s a pair of earrings that go with it, but the museum store was out of those, so they will come later to join the bracelet in my jewelry drawer. In addition to the bracelet, I also received these adorable notebooks to write in:
And I bought myself a present as well. It was a membership to the Museum of Fine Arts:
Now I can go whenever I want to without worrying about the entrance fee. (And I can bring a guest. So if you’re coming to Boston, let me know and I’ll take you.)
It also made me think about my stuff, what those Christmas presents were being added to. And I thought, I don’t have a lot of stuff, really. Here’s my jewelry drawer:
Note to thieves: there is absolutely nothing in here worth stealing. I love beautiful things, and all the things I have here, the strings of coral and pearls, the silver brooches, the earrings and rings with marcasite, are beautiful. But what’s the point of having expensive jewelry? I’d rather go to Nepal.
Most of my clothes fit into one side of a closet:
And one chest of drawers:
Although I have to admit that there are a few boxes in a linen closet downstairs with the really fine stuff, the silk scarves, the art deco purse made all of silver chains, the fan with Imelda Marcos written on it that my secretary from the New York law firm gave me. (She had been a model in the Philippines, and had once traveled as part of a cultural troupe with Imelda Marcos, who had given out such fans to foreign dignitaries.)
And speaking of Imelda Marcos, that includes shoes:
My most recent purchase is this adorable pair, which I will have to wait until the summer to show off:
They were $7.49 at a thrift store. That’s because I’m saving for my trip to Nepal! Or wherever else I go next . . .