Expat Life

Left behind

Today’s prompt in the Expat Blog Challenge is “something I left behind”.

The list is endless. I left behind my country, my city, my family, my friends, my spiritual community, my cultural community, my cat, my bed, my mementos, clothes, accessories, many books, and many knick-knacks. But the “something” I’m prompted to write about today is a book: The Riverside Shakespeare.

In college, I majored in English. As part of the requirements, I had to take one of three Shakespeare courses: Comedies, Tragedies, or Histories. I took Comedies and Tragedies (yes, I took two). The text for all these courses was The Riverside Shakespeare, a scholarly tome containing all the Bard’s plays with introductions and textual notes as well as several essays on Shakespeare’s life and works.

I tried packing this book several times both in my luggage and in the boxes I shipped from Miami to Melbourne, but it weighs nearly 8 lbs (3.6 kg). In the end, I left it behind, twice. I left it behind when I first came to Melbourne and I left it behind a second time when I returned from a visit to Miami. I think about it often. I’m not sure why. It’s not like I sit around reading Shakespeare or as if the Bard’s work is hard to come by. It’s in every library, bookstore, and thrift shop, not to mention online. There’s just something special about that book. It reminds me of college, of a wonderful professor, of an exciting, creative class, of England, and of Emma Thompson.

Next time I visit Miami, I’ll be sure to bring it back with me.

What did you leave behind that you wish you hadn’t?



  • I left behind my Riverside Shakespeare too. It has a prized place on one of my bookshelves in Pittsburgh. I can’t count the number of times I’ve wished for one of the books I left behind, although I’m not sure the Riverside ever came to mind before I read your post. Now I am wishing I didn’t bring as many books as I did, because some of them will probably stay in Australia forever.

    • Cosette

      I’m so glad to see I’m not the only bookworm and pleasantly surprised to discover so many of us left beloved books behind.

  • How heartbreaking to try and pack it twice & have to remove it because of weight! Good luck next time!

    • Cosette

      One of these days, it’s gonna make it across the globe!

  • No way to “replace” those books you loved in college. Even if you buy a duplicate of the exact same edition, you still know it’s not the one that you fell in love with. Hope you can reunite with your Shakespeare one day. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

    • Cosette

      Indeed. I still have a book from grade school and a few from high school, all beat up, but they are so special for the memories that they carry. Someday, Shakespeare will make it over.

  • Love these prompts and am slowly getting involved (posted my left behind post just now ;-)) It’s comforting to know that even though you and other expat blog friends are thousands of miles away, we are all united by the same feelings. Really enjoying reading your posts!

  • Boy, are you correct about the list being endless of the things we’ve left behind!

    • Cosette

      I know, right? We’re pretty crazy, the expat bunch.

  • I had to do the same when I left Spain. I acquired a number of English books while I was there–some for school, some for pleasure. I only had 2 suitcases to fit what I needed most (including 2 packages I sent through air mail… I won’t go into the condition those packages looked like when they arrived in the States, it was awful) and I ended up leaving all my books behind and gave them to a friend. I don’t know if she got around to reading any of them, but it was better than throwing them out. Books bring back memories and I think that is why they are hard to part with.

    • I pared down my library (and my belongings in general) tremendously. I gave friends first dibs and donated the rest. I left some books behind and I hope to get them down here eventually.