My backpack was growing absurdly heavy. I had been cavalier and ruthless about clothing, toiletries, first aid–it was only four months in Asia! Bandages were for the weak. I didn’t need more than one pair of pants, or three shirts. Razors were for job interviews. Dental floss was for date night. If it meant I was going to have to carry it through Thailand and India, I probably didn’t want it.
The only item that went uncompromised, the only objects so necessary to my continued biological functioning other than the goopy organs already locked in my husk: my books. I wasn’t going anywhere without my books.
It started simply enough. I made dire, brutal calculations of space and weight and airline bag regulations. I considered pace of reading, total page counts and the relative difficulties of style, likely downtime, made equations to include the variable of a rainy day. My travel compatriots were also packing books, and I took theirs into account, too. I slid 5 books into my backpack, cradled them in the precious central core where they could be buffeted by soft underpants, where they could be shrouded in t-shirts to keep them from the dangers of the outside world.
These were my paperbacks. Nothing would befall them. And I had all I needed.