Emigration List: The Bare Necessities


As I was going through recipes for Thanksgiving, I came across a small list from almost nineteen years ago. I always come across this list around this time of year, because I keep it in my recipe book. Which, the last couple of years, I only open around this time of year.

When I emigrated to America, I had my stuff packed and shipped. My things would be delivered about six weeks after my arrival. T had bought us a little house and I needed a few things for those six weeks. The things I felt I absolutely couldn’t do without.

It’s a small list. It’s heading: “What I need to take in my luggage”

Cutting board (It was my small, thin board for lightweight camping.)
Cookbook (That’s probably why the list ended up there.)
Cooking scales (Also tiny.)
1 pan
2 bowls
2 knives
2 forks
2 spoons
Paring knife
Soup ladle
Serving spoon
Miscellaneous toiletries
Tea light
2 tea mugs
Dutch music cassettes
Butterflies (My great-grandmother’s skirt weights for cycling. I was attached to them, so I didn’t want them to get lost or damaged.)
Little bronze milkmaid bell (Idem.)

Why I felt I had to take my cooking scale is a mystery. I hardly ever measure anything exactly and I don’t bake much.

I suppose I bought a teapot over here because a teapot would break in my luggage. Little did I know that I would be landing, on February 6, in 89 degree weather! My lifelong chain-drinking tea habit went out the window in a flash, never to really return again.

But here’s my point: this is the very small list of things–apart from clothes–that I felt I really couldn’t do without. It’s a good reminder that all the stuff we think we need is mostly redundant. Nice, but pure luxury.

8 responses to “Emigration List: The Bare Necessities

  1. I’ll share My ‘travel’ list: medications, toiletries, clean socks and underwear.
    And BOOKS, or my Ereader, yes I’ve bought one finally, and although there’s nothing like paper pages and the weight of a book in your hand, those little machines come in darn handy. I would normally be hauling a bag full of books with me on holiday! No more.

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  2. I was brutal in getting rid of things when we moved. “Leave it all behind” was my mantra, although in some cases I think I was a bit too extreme. Still, what I left behind were mainly things of sentimental value that I occasionally wish I had here. It was surprising how easily we got by without much of anything, including much furniture, for more than a month.

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    • As for furniture, T had bought a bed and mattress, we had his parents’ sofa from the seventies and two of my in-laws’ folding garden chairs.
      The funny thing about what I shiiped is that before leaving I thought there was a lot of my Dutch stuff I needed to feel more at home. But over the years I’ve gotten rid of practically everything. It’s not the things that were important after all.

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  3. My emigration stash did grow. To NZ it was one large box (0.5m3) From NZ it was about double that volume. Still only 9 small boxes. It struck me then that a fair bit was the stuff that had come with me to NZ. Mostly stuff with dear memories. But it did teach me how little I really need to have to define me. Did not stop me from buy lots of new stuff though 🙂
    I remember talking to the shipping company and not insuring it. Basically no money could ever replace the stuff. If it was lost it was lost. It all arrived safely.

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    • My stuff that I shipped was a LOT more than my little luggage list. Half a Mayflower truck full. Thousands of books, my Scandinavian shelving system, some antique furniture… But it’s all luxury in the end.Though I have no regrets bringing my shelving system. It’s the best!

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  4. What a delightful reminder to bump into at this time each year . . . the less we have, the more time we have to enjoy what we have.

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