Montreal. That's cold, right? It's a magic word, Montreal. Say it and the other person shivers on cue.
So you fold up your sweaters and you sit on them, because without those vacuum-seal bags as seen on TV, ass will have to do. You fold up your underwear and your bras, because even seals and polar bears have a skeleton beneath all that blubber. You too will need one under layers of down and wool to prop you upright like a human being.
What else? Your suitcase is small and yet your life, even just a year of it, demands much.
Your gray peacoat with the puffy shoulders may have done well for the cold and rainy North of France, but it won't hold up to - shiver. You fold it up anyway in anticipation of the sliver of time just before first snowfall.
Leather jacket, for transitioning autumn days. For walking down streets hazy with the cloud of unfamiliarity. For faking it 'til you make it, or 'til the cold stiffens up the sleeves and chases the leathery blend of polyester and sweatshop essence to the back of your tiny closet. Whichever comes first.
A pot. A knife. Even Robinson Crusoe needed one of those. Your passport and documents. Skirts upon skirts upon dresses. If you're going to look like a marshmallow for six months, you may as well be a delicate flower underneath. You'll wear them just for yourself, you say, in the way some girls wear underwear emblazoned with the days of the week. That is, as a reminder of your femininity. Try saying that five times fast come January.
The orphaned polar bear figurine from your last stop-motion short. Polar bears belong in the cold, don't they? It only seems right after you tossed his mother in the trash earlier this year. Three, four months from now, in the throes of the harsh Canadian winter, you might wonder, what is the point, at which point you need only gaze upon the yellowing cub and feel the artistic inspiration of twelve nine-year-olds flood back into your veins.
And let's not forget your biography of Lincoln, half-finished and half the size of your head. You always feel immense guilt about not finishing the books you buy. If you bring it, you'll definitely finish it. Imagine a snowy Sunday morning, curled up on your lumpy couch (it came with the apartment), getting to know the 16th president, flakes falling aimlessly just outside the window. Look at it. It's so dense it'll last you the whole year. You're saving the space of three other books, really.
At last, there is nothing left to pack. The animals have entered the ark. You grasp the two sides of the case: now kiss. But like tortoises in captivity, they refuse to meet. Though you summon your ass once more, it doesn't work the same magic on plastic shells as it does on sweaters.
So you haul everything out. Yes, even the sweaters. And you start again. Just how many sweaters do you really need anyway? If you don't leave the warmth of the house two days out of seven, that leaves...five sweaters. You don't have five, you have four. A couple of tank tops should make up for the fifth.
...And why don't you throw in those suede flats for good measure?