I’m Basically Out of Here, OR Last-Minute Home Appreciation and the Art of Packing

Underneath Murdochs gift shop in Galveston, Texas, right on the gulf.

These past two weeks have been filled with more Texas-exploring than I usually bother to do, even though I supposedly live here. Figures. Whenever I know I have a limited quantity of something left, I’ll immediately convince myself it’s the greatest thing ever and I could never want anything else.

Case in point: Princeton at the end of the spring semester.

Case in point: Texas.

Hotel Galvez seen from a rock pier just off Seawall Blvd. I am such a sucker for negative space in photos.

I made my first trip to Galveston since spring 2010 and considered it an extended photo op with great potential for negative space (open skies, the flat plane of the sea, etc).

And Houston! Houston is uniquely commercial for such a large city. It’s nothing like New York or Chicago with distinct neighborhoods and local flavor — Houston is more of a commuter’s city, a worker’s city, with plenty of office buildings but not much else. People pile into the city in the morning for the work day, then drain out of it in the evening to get to the surrounding residential communities. The result is a city that feels oddly lifeless considering its high population, busy highways, and sprawl. But if you pick the right areas of it, you get to see things like this:

Rice University.

I almost went to Rice, and I spent a large portion of my high school years going to random lectures and creative writing teaching workshops there, so I feel a weird affinity for it. I think my mother really wanted me to go.

Well, too late.

– – – – –

Aaand I’m now in the process of packing for London.

Packing for three months is tricky. Two I can handle — at the beginning of the summer, I packed for two months in NYC. But three months…that’s a slightly inconvenient period of time that’s nowhere near long enough for me to be able to justify packing stupid little luxuries (Steve Madden pumps, hair straightener, book in which Stephen Fry rants at length about sugar), but not short enough for me to pack light.

It also doesn’t help that I’ll be in London for the entirety of the fall, a season of tights and boots and cardigans.

Because cardigans.

I don’t think you understand. I was apparently born a British grandpa and I have serious a cardigan problem. How am I supposed to fit an entire season’s worth of cardigans into a single checked bag, particularly with the possibility (hah, who am I kidding — certainty) that I’ll be hunting for some cable-knit, elbow-patch, large-buttoned atrocities in England?

To quote Janis Ian in every teenager’s favorite movie, This is ass, you guys.

Hoping for some expert guidance, I turned to Louis Vuitton’s “The Art of Packing,” a short film from the label’s YouTube channel and an interactive website feature that teaches you to efficiently pack things into a luxury suitcase. Except there was a problem, and it’s called it teaches you to pack things into a luxury suitcase.

See, at some point in LV’s recommended process, you’re supposed to lower a handy little shelf/divider-type thing and keep packing things into your bag’s second level. But my suitcase cost less than $3,000 (okay, fine, it cost less than $150, too) and isn’t made out of textured leather or stamped with obnoxious designer logos, so yeah, erm, it’s not going to have that classy little second level. So I closed the browser window and stewed for a bit.

And then I shoved everything haphazardly into my bag and called it a day.

I’m flying out Sunday evening.

– – – – –

Foraging: the Hobbit Cafe on Richmond St. in Houston is…exactly what it sounds like. A random little restaurant filled with Lord of the Rings memorabilia, it offers a series of sandwiches named after characters from Tolkien’s perennial Middle Earth classics. (A visiting college friend ate “Bilbo the Magnificent” when we went.)

On heavy rotation: “Amsterdam” by Imagine Dragons. “Yellow Light” by Of Monsters and Men.

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