Analytical Packing

A lotion, a deodorant, and a cold cream.
A lotion, a deodorant, and a cold cream.

The signs of my imminent relocation are on my apartment floor. Lying around are cartons, totes, crates, suitcases, sorting bags, a fanny pack. Over the last 180 hours, I’ve been bustling about my pad, packing, packing, packing.

In just under a week, I’ll head out of New York, bound west for the Buckeye State.

Into an eclectic array of luggage and shipping containers of varying sizes, I’ve compressed my entire household, barring the hard furniture, of course. Too bad, they’re not inflatable.

Yet, none look tubby, bloated, or as if they’re bursting at the seams. The suitcases are loaded with a truckload of objects I’ll need to summon at my new destination: a garbage bag, a set of clothes hanger, a Ziploc bag, a pillow.

"Office supplies" for the home.
“Office supplies” for the home.
Cosmetics and audio components.
Cosmetics and audio components.
Toiletries in plastic bags.
Toiletries in plastic bags.

But they don’t look crammed with cargo. There’re no knotty tangles of socks; no pair of pants, haphazardly folded with a disregard to its creases; no lipstick case is smeared with its sexy, waxy contents.

Imagination and innovation reign supreme in this exercise. Structure, order, and precision are its guiding principles.

I start out by doing an analysis of the constraints I face: limitations of space and the lack of a private transport. I can neither carry too many, nor too heavy pieces of baggage. I can’t also afford to spend a fortune in sending them off as unaccompanied U.S.P.S. consignments.

Once I have that squared away, I chalk a plan. I sit down with a paper and pen and draw up a permutation and combination of the number, size, and type of the bags I can carry with me—without breaking my back and a bank. I search for the winning formula, the one that’ll maximize the return on my assets.

Books under Bubble Wrap.
Books under Bubble Wrap.

Arriving at a sound decision about what to carry your world in is just as crucial as what in your world you want to carry for propping yourself up at your next address. This entails a meticulous examination of your goods and chattels. My decision to pick a particular T-shirt or a certain pair of denim jeans hinges on the answers to a five-part mini-questionnaire.

  1. What’s the purpose of my move?
  2. Where will I put up on arrival?
  3. What will my future daily routine be?
  4. What are the expenses I’ll incur as a result of the move?
  5. What sort of settings will I be required to spend most time in?

Sartorial infrastructure is a core concern, not just because of an elemental need, but also for its godly power to define us in an appearance-obsessed culture. So, I settled on a wardrobe that was efficient, versatile, light, and professional. It wasn’t difficult at all. That I don’t own lustrous, Swarovski-studded gowns or gonzo, appliquéd pajamas helped immensely.

With that out of the way, I heaved a sigh of relief. It’s a monumental, energy-sapping task.

The next step in this arduous process was to ensure that my attires were freshly laundered and ironed. I wouldn’t go so far as to put each in a brown paper package and then tie it up with colored strings. But I come close. I shine my shoes, wrap them in grocery store plastic bags, and fasten a rubber band around their necks just so they don’t toss and turn and upset the luggage cart. I fold up my clothes into neat parcels.

When I see little leaning towers of fabric on my bed, futon, and footlocker, I know I’ve crossed another important hurdle.

What remains to be done next is to place them inside the valises. My mantra is simple: make the most of the least. I succeed. I visualize any luggage floor as a rectangular grid of cubbies.

A tote of woolens.
A tote of woolens.

The end result is pleasing. There’s no overcrowding. The stuffs sit snugly, but have adequate breathing space. The ability to squirrel away articles neatly and orderly, making the optimal use of space isn’t just about being an ace packer. To me, it signifies something larger. It demonstrates the ability to think creatively within constraints.

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