The first section of our nomadic lives was driving around the US. We had our streamlined nomadic luggage, but we also had stuff in the car–food, extra clothes, spare shoes, all kinds of this and that.
So the real test has been these last two weeks in Sofia and Plovdiv, Bulgaria, when we each have a carry-on suitcase and a backpack and that’s it.
I had a feeling that the clothes and items I could fit would be all I need, and they are. But even better is discovering that they are also all I want. I use what I packed and I eat what I can buy in the stores within walking distance from our flat.
At home in Virginia, I had developed all kinds of quirky preferences. I liked this wine, but not that one. Here, we bought an inexpensive Bulgarian white, chilled it, toasted the people of Bulgaria, and drank it on the balcony. We didn’t walk to another store. We didn’t search for something better. What would be better? We bought another bottle. наздраве! [cheers!]
At home, I liked this kind of dishwashing sponge and would be annoyed if, over a weekend away or something, I was compelled to use that sponge. As it turns out, that annoying sponge is here in the flat and it works just fine. The dishes are clean. Why care about it? I do not.
But the true test, of course, is breakfast. Breakfast far from home, far from my long-standing morning routine. I have eaten oatmeal every morning for years. I had my favorite brand, thick-cut and organic. I topped it with fresh berries and a few roasted, unsalted, slivered almonds purchased from a different store, a several minutes’ drive away from the store with the oatmeal. I had a car. It was easy enough. There wasn’t sufficient friction to keep me from getting my favorite, so I drove here and there and way over there not just for what would work, but for my favorite. Before we departed the U.S., I thought a lot about those roasted, unsalted, slivered almonds, how perfect they were, how I would miss them. I wondered if I’d have a fretful, tetchy moment of homesickness each morning as I fixed breakfast without them.
Here’s what happened instead: I don’t even make oatmeal. I’m in Bulgaria where yogurt is at least one of the four basic food groups, so I’m spooning yogurt over whatever fresh fruit is at the produce stand at the end of the block (this morning: a fresh fig) with a bit of granola for crunch. It’s perfect for eating on the balcony in the morning sun, overlooking the Bulgarian revival rooftops and the Soviet apartment blocks and our very few shirts on the drying rack. It’s a delicious breakfast.
It might even be my favorite.
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