Within forty-eight hours Art and I will be on a (gulp) plane bound for Connecticut. I am doing what I always do – vowing that I will not wait until the last minute to pack. Mentally taking stock of what we’ll need, and realizing that no matter what I take or don’t take, it will be wrong.
To begin with, Art does not believe in checking baggage. He doesn’t like the wait at the end of the trip for luggage that may or may not be coming down the ramp. So, we are one of those couples who have maxed out our carry-on allowance. Art carries his computer (of course), and I carry my purse (of course). That’s the end of our “personal items”. Then we each have one of those little rolling suitcases. Mine is the one that has the bum wheel – like one of those carts at the supermarket that doesn’t quite work.
Now for Art, packing is a relatively simple matter, since he refuses to wear anything but his “uniform”. His “uniform” consists of the following: a pair of jeans, a t-shirt with a pocket (has to have a pocket for his glasses), and an over shirt (with a pocket for the same reason as the T-shirt) with long sleeves. So if I pack him a week’s worth of underwear and socks, one pair of jeans (as an alternative to the ones he wears on the plane), one sweater (he only wears Shetland wool crewnecks in traditional colors) and his toothbrush, we’ve pretty much got him covered.
I’m a different story. After all, I am a woman. I have tried to emulate Art’s simplicity of dress, but I can’t quite pull it off. I look hideous in T-shirts. I get tired of jeans. And man-tailored shirts look less and less attractive to me. So I have cardigans and turtlenecks and boat necks and Peter Pan collars and mandarin collars and shrink tops and big tops and blue jeans and black jeans and black slacks and brown slacks and cords and denims and . . . As Joni Mitchell once said, “ . . .the crazies you get from too much choice”.
Once I got so caught up in deciding what to wear that I completely forgot to pack socks. For a woman who wears trousers all the time, forgetting socks is about as bad as forgetting underwear. (I have done that, too).
Also – I keep trying to push this question out of my already-crowded mind: What are we going to do with our great big winter coats once we get on the plane? I think wearing them all the way to Connecticut may be our only option!
Furthermore, when you’re traveling, your purse becomes a small suitcase. More than likely, Art will hand me various and sundry items like his wallet, his keys, his glasses, and his sunglasses, and he will entreat me to keep them for him. So they go into the purse. Then I always have to carry my address book when we travel (even though Art swears all those numbers are in his computer). Then, of course, there is make-up. But when I travel, I take more with me (I don’t know why – I never use it). Then there are my “comfort” items: I must have the following: chewing gum, nasal spray, bottled water, Kleenex, Ear Planes, headset, my little white pills to keep me from panicking, and my reading material and knitting. (Yes, they let you carry knitting needles on the plane. If anyone tries to highjack us, I will be the best-armed passenger in this side of the Mississippi. I can just imagine the scene: “Alright, fella. I’ve got a pair of Number 10s here and I’m not afraid to use them”! All in all – I don’t know how I’m going to stuff my purse with all that junk.
Complicating matters is the fact that we have just gotten ourselves a little condo in Connecticut so that we will have, not only a place to stay when we visit Art’s family, but (and this is crucial) so that we won’t have to schlep everything we own across the country every time we travel. The only trouble is, we don’t have a comprehensive list of what’s there, so we both have to scratch our heads and ask each other questions like, “Do you remember if I left a brown jacket in Connecticut”? Chances are, I did. Chances are, I’ll still pack another jacket “just in case”. If I don’t pack it, then I didn’t leave the jacket there after all. That much is guaranteed.
So. It’s Wednesday morning. By this time Friday morning we’ll be somewhere over the Mojave Desert – too late to turn back for the forgotten shampoo. But as my very wise grandmother used to always say, “It’s not like you’re going to the vilderness”! That’s why God invented 24-hour drug stores.
© 2004, Robin Munson