I’ve never been good at packing. Be it for a weekend or long-haul trip, the process of selecting clothing to be placed in a suitcase or other container for use over coming days and weeks is so stressful that I have a moment, every single time I pack for a trip, when I wonder if it’s really worth going. (It always is, of course, but I still have that moment…) I always seem to overpack, as though I were being tested for my Girl Scout Preparedness Merit Badge.
Over and Under Packing
I’ve never really understood the genesis of my dislike for packing. People do it – quite successfully – every day. But not me. My children are successful packers. They can toss a few items into a reasonable size bag and head off to the airport or train station without making a scene. Clearly it’s not genetic, or odds are one of them would be stymied by an inability to get out the door without having a meltdown. (There was that one Spring Break when my middle child took 9 pairs of shoes on a 5 day excursion to the DR, but I attribute that mostly to high-teen attitude brought on by a newly acquired subscription to Cosmo and being pissed off at me that I wouldn’t let her go by herself to Atlantis with a “few friends”…)
I was getting dressed one morning a few weeks ago when the comment was made that I dress not for the weather or for the situation but for my mood. I realized that I do dress to my mood. It’s not that I’m moody (I’m not… really…) but some days I feel creative and floaty, some days practical and rigid, others youthful and vibrant, sometimes mature and commanding. I posses a range of styles and colors and patterns; walking into my closet one would think that several people shared the space (feel free to insert a snarky comment about the sheer volume of clothes in my closet.) What I wear depends upon who I am – or whom I feel myself to be – on a particular day, much less than what I will be doing over the course of the ensuing 12 to 24 hours.
And I think that is why I’m a terrible packer. Predicting my mood – perhaps persona is a better word – is challenging. The manner in which I move through the day changes based on a number of unpredictable variables. I may start out feeling creative, dressed in loose and ethereal garments, but an unexpected call or email requiring serious focus and attention crosses my path and the functionality of layers of chiffon and tulle distracts from the task at hand. It’s impossible to take oneself too seriously wearing tie dye, for example, and yet it’s the perfect vibe in case you happen upon an outdoor music festival or pop up farmer’s market – all possible scenarios while on the road away from the nest.
I’ll be leaving soon on another adventure. I’ve already started planning and strategizing about what I will wear for different outings and situations. But I already know that despite my best intentions of streamlining and coordinating, pre-planning and wardrobe capsuling, that at the last minute I’ll end up squeezing a whole bunch of “just in case” items into my bag, and as I haul my cumbersome luggage through Customs and connections I’ll gaze enviously at the nimble travelers who make do with just a back pack or small wheelie, and wonder why I can’t be normal, like everyone else….