Yesterday morning, as I tried to force all my worldly possessions into two cramped blue suitcases, I thought to myself that you never realize how much you need until you start packing.

That’s not true. You never realize how much you think you need until you unpack it all.

For example, did you know that it is evidently impossible to buy paper in the Netherlands? Fortunately, I came prepared.

Shown: Four times the number of notebooks Noah had on the ark.

Luckily, I made up for all the lost space by bringing the bare minimum of books.

The need for each of these books should be self-evident. Respective guides to fashion and Jewish literature included.

But I managed to squeeze it all in, along with my clothing, travel items, and art sets. And now that my bags are unpacked and stowed away in my new living space, I have a bit more time to breathe, and take in the last 24 hours.

Around this time yesterday, I was putting away the last of my things, shelving the rest of my books, and taking my little brother out to lunch. Then my mother helped me load my bags into the car, I gave the Men in My Life a teary goodbye, and she and I set off for the airport.

And a few hours later, as my plane lifted off of the tarmac and I watched the city lights begin to fade, I noticed how small it all was. That my whole life thus far can so easily be pinned down on a map. All the things that have mattered to me; the town I’ve grown up in; the places where all the major and minor moments of my life have happened.

When you’re up in the air watching it all fall away beneath you, it strikes you that the world is so much more vast and beautiful than you ever gave it credit for. And it’s all before me, waiting to be seen, explored, and experienced. That’s terrifying, and it’s wonderful.

Now that I’m a continent away from home, the early stress of packing seems so silly. I managed to fit my necessities (and a few paper extravagances) into a suitcase, but even if I hadn’t, I would still have everything I need. I have family, and a place to stay, and the chance to travel, and the time to write.

And even if it’s a little daunting to leave my whole life behind, Home will be there waiting for me when I get back. Whatever big or little ways it may have changed will be alright, because I’ll have changed in big and little ways too.

And until then, it makes a great starting point.

Sara Laughed

Hey hey! I'm Sara, an American writer living in the Netherlands and working as a product manager.

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