Today I finally unpacked my suitcase.  I know you’re probably thinking, “You’ve been in India for 43 days and you haven’t unpacked yet?!  What’s the deal woman?”  This issue isn’t special to India.  I have lived in the same house for almost 2 years and I just unpacked boxes of my life this past summer.  It was a process.

There is always an internal conflict that occurs leading up to unpacking.  I see my suitcase in the corner, starring at me, reminding me that it is meant for transporting things, not becoming a permanent residence for them.  The empty shelves in my closet urging me to use them, fill them, put down some roots. 

I don’t know why I have such a hesitancy towards unpacking.  During my yearlong YouthBuilder experience after high school I felt like I traveled all the time.  One week here, another week in a new place.  I was a traveling gypsy and I loved it.  I got to dip my feet in so many different experiences and places without ever having to fully commit to one.

While I became really good at picking up and hitting the road, I forgot how to unpack; really unpack.  I forgot how to claim a shelf for myself.

Unpacking makes things seem a little more permanent.  It forces me to admit that I am staying put for a while; admitting the people I am around and the relationships I am in are more than just a week long experience that I can fly through and detach from.  It forces me to not only engage in their lives, but allow them to become a part of mine.

Unpacking my suitcase is a little more than just putting my clothes on some hangers and shelves.  Unpacking is publically declaring that I am here in India for a while and that my life is no longer kept in a safe container in the corner, but has started to spill out into the lives and shelves and closets of other people around me.  Unpacking means giving my life permission to expand and explore.

So here I go…43 days into this trip and I am finally admitting that this is home for a little while longer.  I’ve taken a good look at my shelves and have seen mixtures of my life in the states mix with my life in India, and I gotta tell you, it’s a beautiful mess of a collection I’ve got going on in there.  And it’s going to keep on growing.

Let’s see what happens now that I’ve finally allowed myself to unpack.

Ashley Sider