w w w . m y v i r t u a l m u s e u m . c o m

Sarah Grossman
Thruhiker, Graduate Student
Cornell University

Ithaca, New York
July 17, 2002

A vitrine with nothing in it represents my idealized, stuff-free existence -- an ironic desire as I am not a stuff free person -- I like things, but they do get in the way. When I hiked the Appalachian Trail I didn't have much stuff but what I had felt like too much. Now, I weigh every acquisition to determine how necessary it is. So I want the smallest bar of soap, and no junk drawer, and no extra clothes, and the lightest tooth brush, and a kitchen without paper towels. The number of things that I actually need is very small but the number of things that I want for convenience is quite large. For instance, I need one knife, and one sauce pan and one pair of pajamas and one lamp, but in fact I really want much, much more -- a bread knife, a carving knife; a different lotion for my face than for my hands; a bedside table and a coffee table -- but how to justify purchasing it? Also, I'm definitely a pack rat, and as a graduate student do acquire many books, none of which I can carry on my back, and which therefore seem unnecessary. Yet clearly, for my studies, they are necessary. Five months of having only what I could carry gave me a guilt complex about the idea of possessions. In the past twelve months since I stopped hiking, that guilt has not diminished, although I am aware of how comical some luxuries in my life are (i.e. owning a toaster).

In case:
Mountain air

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