Tomorrow we’re getting on a plane to go to visit family in Connecticut.
We’ve known about this trip for several weeks. This time tomorrow I will be on the plane. All I’ve got packed so far is socks, underwear and t-shirts.
Every time we travel I imagine that the next time I will be more organized and efficient. I imagine that I will make a list a week ahead of time and will check each item off the list as I pack. The night before leaving, I imagine Art and me enjoying a candlelight supper, our bags packed and waiting by the front door. I imagine that I will get on the plane knowing that all is in order. I imagine that I will not panic as the plane takes off, thinking that I have left the stove on. I swear to myself that I will not forget one of the following items: bras (it was awful), sweaters, nightgowns, vitamins, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, camera, umbrella, socks. . . all of which I have forgotten before.
Now, as my grandmother used to say, it’s not like we’re going off to the wilderness; we can find just about anything we need wherever we’re going (except for prescription medicine, which we can’t buy in another state). But it gets expensive and inconvenient, buying stuff that we already had at home. And you wind up spending more time at Wal-mart than you had planned. Usually, maddeningly, the forgotten item is left sitting on top of the bathroom sink or the nightstand where I specifically left it so that I would not forget to pack it.
I tell myself I will make a list. Then I sit down to type out my list. I start with the obvious: underwear, socks, shoes, toothbrushes, toothpaste. . .and I feel like an idiot. I am embarassed to type the list. I abandon the list. Who could forget anything so obvious as, say, underwear? Well, I have.
Now, part of the problem is that we don’t want to check any bags. So, here we are planning a three week trip. We each get one carry-on bag that has to fit underneath the seat, and one “personal item”. I have learned to stash my pocketbook in my carry-on, which allows my “personal item” to be a small bag for toiletries, my books, and my endless array of comfort items for the plane. My husband has to bring his computer, of course. That leaves us with our carry-ons. (Mine is the green one with the wobbly wheels.)
So, you might ask how in the world can you pack for three weeks with only one carry-on a piece? Well, you take two pairs of jeans, a week’s worth of underwear and socks, a couple of t-shirts, one sweater, one pair of shoes, and you do your laundry once a week. (Then you just ship anything else U.P.S.).
The day before a trip I always have the vague feeling that I am forgetting to do something important. I usually am. Besides the packing, there are the cats to be taken care of, the paper to be stopped, the mail to be handled and the plants to be watered. The garbage has to be taken out so that your house doesn’t smell like a dump when you get home. Emergency numbers have to be given to friends and loved ones. The taxi has to be called for 6:00 a.m. so that you can make your 8:00 a.m. flight. Some lights are left on. Some lights have to be left off. The house has to be locked, front and back.
And I have to check the stove yet one more time.