Thursday, January 15, 2009

it's all in the bag

It is said that life imitates art. Or perhaps it is that art imitates life. No matter—I have observed, within the past 24 hours, that packing is what truly imitates life.

To say I am organized is an understatement. To say I am neurotic is only slight hyperbole. Because this is not a strength my husband and I share to any great degree (read: at all), it falls to me to do the vast majority of our packing when we travel. Which is generally fine (except for when it isn’t fine), because I am a very thorough and efficient (though not sparing) packer. Most of the time.

A compulsive list maker, I typically have every detail under control. Passing thoughts of I need to remember to take _____ get written down own sticky notes. Sticky notes multiply like wire hangers, accumulating into lists. I begin weeks before our departure thinking about what we will need, about what we might need, about what we might not need but might want and be disappointed if we don’t take. Every contingency is considered—weather, activity level, color coordination, mood, alignment of the planets—I will be ready. I have a list, and I know how to use it. This typically is a fair representation of what life looks like in my world. Lists, contingencies, a place for everything, everything in its place. And a cute pair of shoes to match.

So let’s start with the shoes, shall we? For this trip, I packed two pair, and wore a third, not counting the aquasocks. Three pair. Isn’t that appalling? Usually I have at LEAST five for a trip to Florida. At LEAST. But you see, after working 32 hours in the past three days (keep in mind I’m “part time”), I couldn’t bring myself, in my one hour window within which I had to pack both myself and my five-year-old, to care about which shoes looked absolutely best with each outfit (because I couldn’t even pull together outfits, but we’ll get to that in a moment.) (And don’t even get me started about my unadorned toenails…)

In the furor of trying to get ready to go on vacation, I somehow never had the time or the energy to plan for our vacation. Sticky notes were amassed, but failed to multiply. Lists were never generated. Outfits were never planned. I found myself on Wednesday, in the middle of a snow storm, grimily tossing whatever shorts I could fasten around my post-Christmas waist into my suitcase, followed by every layering t-shirt I could find and a pair of tennis shoes. I glanced in the mirror on my way back to the closet—I didn’t know the woman reflected back at me.

My son’s suitcase was no better. Three pair of jeans. Check. Three pair of shorts. Check. As many long and short-sleeve shirts of a similar color scheme as I could wad into half the bag. Check. Pajamas. Oh yeah… Toothbrush. Hmmm… Not sure.

And so here I am, in Florida, riffling through my suitcase looking for some relaxation and realizing I’d forgotten to pack it, along with my little bag of patience. Joy was lost a long time ago, but I thought for sure I’d put a little bit of happiness in the bag—perhaps it’s under the pile of relentless, heavy burdens that weighed the suitcase down as I drug it from the house to the car. Fortunately, the toothbrushes we can grab at one of the fifteen WalGreens within a five mile radius. The other items, however, I think are going to be harder to come by. Hopefully, by the end of our time here, I will find them all somewhere in the bottom of the bag—I just hope to find them in time to enjoy them.


I.I. said...

I may have told this story, but there was a time back in the day (15-20 years ago), when if I were grocery shopping and found an item that I wanted that was not on the list, I would add it to the list, put it in the cart, then cross it off the list.

I've gotten better since then.

Enjoy your trip.

-- Alan

Cindy said...

Geez, I wish I had your problem. Instead I'm here enjoying the -10 deep freeze.
Oh, I usually pack the night before the trip..all off the cuff.

Julie Morrison said...

I'm a light packer. I believe in wash and line dry then wear. No way that Florida's clothes are freezing on the line. In Ohio, mine aren't even waiting, they're freezing on me.
Who's the idiot that invented zero on the thermometer?!
Before you come home, tell the sun we need him here for a few more (read ten) weeks before spring...