Rainy Day Spring Cleaning Travel Memories

Sometimes it’s just been TOO long since the last trip. If you thought about it, you’d know you were in travel withdrawal. But you don’t. You soldier on… days a little less sparkly and bright, stupid little things really getting under your skin, brain liquefying as you do the same things day after day… until the rainy spring day when you decide to tackle your closets. We’re not talking a light straighten and dust. This is one of those spring cleanings that doesn’t take any prisoners. The kind you wouldn’t have to do at all if you just went on a long walkabout, selling and gifting and whittling away at your possessions before departure till only the essentials remain.

But you haven’t done that for a while, and your closets are overflowing. You wade in, after fortifying yourself with your courage-bolstering agent of choice (whiskey would look better in print, but I must confess to multiple cups of strong oolong tea). Clothes and sporting equipment fly through the air… and then you find it. A dear friend from your last trip. Or the one before that. Something buried that you’d all but forgotten. The pain of tackling the closet is forgotten. You try it on, or dust it off. Memories intimately bound to the object you’re holding flood your cleaning-pouty brain, and you smile.

Here are some of the items I found on this rainy May day:

1. Summer kimono from a long Tokyo layover. KimonoI was really bored after a few hours so hit the duty-free. I was a little shocked to see the actual conversion rate of the yen when I got the bill! I pretended to myself that I’d gotten the kimono during a magical visit to Kyoto with my husband a few years before – cherry blossoms, temples, ryokan. A memory of boredom and sticker shock wasn’t what I was going for.



Mask from Chichen Itza2. Hand-carved mahogany mask from the artist himself at Chichen Itza, Mexico. Fond memories of leaving the rain-drenched island of Cozumel and our snorkeling plans behind because of a near-hurricane and finding ourselves thoroughly enchanted by old Colonial Mexico in Valladolid and the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza and Ek Balam.



Lao Weaving3. Jewel-like Thai silk scarves from Chiang Mai and mat-mii weaving from NE Thailand. My motto: so many weavings, so little time.




4. Burmese Buddha patiently waiting his turn to be in the living room. Burmese BuddhaSo many memories of good friends met along the way, the horrible Burmese roads in Shan State, monks practicing English with us on Mandalay Hill, birds on a stick, bike adventures where the bikes always broke down and there was always someone by the side of the road to fix them, cheroots, sunsets at Bagan (Pagan).Burmese Buddha





Italian Leather Purses5. Italian leather purses. Traveling solo, I met some great folks at hostels in Florence, Paris, and Cinque Terre. Ridiculously, I thought these Italian leather purses were too nice for daily use and so have left them in my closet for years. Time for them to see the world, or at least the Denver part of it, as they remind me of the wonders of the monks’ cells’ frescos of Fra Angelico which fill San Marco (where he was a friar) in Florence, my first sight of Paolo Uccello’s “Battle of San Romano” and Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” at the Uffizi, and the lazy tranquility of sipping limoncello after walking through olive groves high on the hills above the Ligurian Sea in Cinque Terre.


Lao Weaving6. Lao weaving. Apparently my cats have given it two thumbs up re: soft bed material as it is covered in fur. A quick clean and it is ready to hang on the wall. I remember buying a big stack of these from a market near the Plain of Jars, and getting rid of most of my gear to fit them in my bag. I wonder if you still have to walk under that sign from Lao Air there that says (I’m paraphrasing) ‘no more than [equivalent of US$100] will be paid in event of death’ as you board the plane?


Rainy day clearing and sorting… and suddenly I’m traveling again in my mind. Who knew? So, what wonderful travel reminders do you have hiding in your closet?

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