Disgraceful Act no. 5.
I’m off to LA for a quick trip to do something exciting for my future. Thats all that can be said, or that I’m willing to share, but how, fantastically dis-gra-ce-ful does that sound? Picture this; “Hi Triplets. I’m going to LA on Friday. Be back next Wednesday. Don’t forget to feed the dog. See ya!” And so the circle is complete; the parent becomes the errant child.
My niece’s friend looked at my attempts to pack in solidarity and said “I’d pay someone to do that for me, if I could. I hate packing”. Personally, I think she may have nailed it and stumbled upon a wonderful idea. Imagine that. Hiring someone to take care of one of the most stressful elements of travel and answering the eternal question; “What can I live without for 7/10/14 days?” I think that those of us who struggle with packing are approaching it from the wrong perspective entirely. We think about what we need to take with us. Rather, we should be thinking about what we don’t need. A five day trip to Los Angeles. Do you really need to pack five handbags. This is what I have to contend with; the rationality of my inner voice competing with the illogical actions of the present self. My approach to packing has now evolved. It is not dissimilar to all out warfare against clothes. If I’m going somewhere where there will be a washing machine, I will pack the minimum number of outfits and constantly recycle them. For my recent Disgraceful Birthday Act – a three week multi-state holiday to America – I packed six outfits. Yes, you read that right, just six. The irony of it is that my niece packed at least 200 changes of clothing and yet her bag was actually lighter than mine. It’s just not right. Or at least, that’s what I think, until I calculate the individual weights of my iPad, chargers, kindle charger, spare phone charger, bits and bobs and everything else that is not an item of clothing. It’s 3.45am, my flight leaves at 10.30 the suitcase finally closes, and is locked. The fear, however, remains. Did I pack my chargers? What about my slippers for the hotel? Have I remembered to put x, y or z into the case? Finally, exhausted beyond belief, I embark on the next stage of my pre-journey, anxiety-inducing activity. I try to sleep. Sleep is good. It is necessary. It makes us feel wonderful. So why is it that I find it almost impossible to sleep the night before I travel? The answer is simplicity itself – the fear of waking up at the time that my flight is due to take off. That’s it, in a nutshell. I was so fuelled with this fear that I could not trust myself to sleep in my bed for the 1hr and 45mins that I had graciously allowed myself left to sleep. Instead, I slept on the sofa. With my iPhone set to wake me with three different alarm times, in case one of them didn’t go off. And with the living room lights on, all of them. Even the lamps. 5.30am and, in a zombie-like state, I thanked myself for having the foresight to shower before my mini-sleep. I stepped into my clothes, or at least I would have, had I not forgotten that they were the unchecked item on my checklist on my iPad – ‘Put damp clothes in the tumble dryer’ remained resolutely unchecked. The realisation was like intravenous espresso, enough to propel me straight from sleepiness unadulterated panic. 45 mins later, wearing clothes that I tried to convince myself were really NOT damp, just a little warm and ‘phew, I must be sweating’ – I was ready to leave. My cab pulled up and off I set, to my mini adventure in la-la-Land to the tube station, where I did a last minute check before catching the tube, only to discover that…… my iPhone was missing. Another cab, back home. A frantic and fruitless search for the phone. Dismay. Mourning. The loss of a loyal and perfect companion. A cab back to the station, another rummage through my hand luggage, only to find the phone safely nestled amongst my stuff. Did I mention that I hate packing?