The writer Joan Didion tops my list of women I admire. Despite her size, she’s always had the guts to get a good story, and is an insightful, haunting, honest writer. But I digress.
It’s summer, a time when many of us spend a good time packing for trips. I think packing well is akin to an art form, one I have not mastered. I usually take too much. When I try to pare down, the items I bring don’t work well enough together to make them into a wardrobe. My favorite packing list of all times is from Didion’s, The White Album, a book of essays on her home, California, women, and travel published in ’79. Will I ever have the guts to pack so light?
To Pack and Wear:
2 jerseys or leotards
1 pullover sweater
2 pair shoes
nightgown, robe slippers
bag with: shampoo, toothbrush and paste, Basis soap, razor, deodorant, aspirin, prescriptions, Tampax, face cream, powder, baby oil
2 legal pads and pens
This is a list which was taped inside my closet door in Hollywood during those years when I was reporting more or less steadily. The list enabled me to pack, without thinking, for any piece I was likely to do. Notice the deliberate anonymity of costume: in a skirt, a leotard, and stockings, I could pass on either side of the culture. Notice the mohair throw for trunk-line flights (i.e. no blankets) and for the motel room in which the air conditioning could not be turned off. Notice the bourbon for the same motel room. Notice the typewriter for the airport, coming home: the idea was to turn in the Hertz car, check in, find an empty bench, an start typing the day’s notes.”