Sheltered Islander: Pack ’Em Up, Pack ’Em In

It’s strange how we start off life so easygoing and how age sneaks up on us and turns us into fussy people. Dorothy Parker said, “It’s not the tragedies that kill us; it’s the messes.”

I went for a week-long visit at a friend’s house. First, I had to find all of the tiny perfume lotion and potion samples I had saved over the years. I had to know which ones still smell great and which ones had gone so far as to join the enemy.

Next I had to go through all the cutesy makeup bags I had gotten as free promotions for buying makeup I almost wanted. Over time the average gal acquires 5 to 20 of these bags. They really are cute. You also have to make sure you have enough room to add small refillable bottles you acquired with other sets. The goal is to have the most proficiently organized cutesy bag. It’s a status symbol. Any woman who can keep a well-organized travel bag at hand deserves to travel. It makes me feel oh so smug and clever—as if my impressive time and organizational skills would surely get me a job at the UN. But truth be told, I am past job hunting. It has become a painful reality to me that sexual harassment has now moved into the job benefits column.

Next comes the fun part of selecting which clothing bag to take. Take the nice matching set, or the cute but less durable buy-one-get-one-free set? Often I combine the two. Regardless of what I end up with, it had taken me three days of high-level selection to get that far.

Now it’s time to actually pack for the trip. This is where I shine. Seven years of military traveling have taught me well. Only two pairs of shoes. Each item of clothing must work with three other items. Each item must be able to be compressed enough to fit into a large matchbox. I once packed for a six-week trip to Europe in a medium sized backpack. Even my husband was impressed, though he did foolishly ask if I had enough jewelry, knowing that I preferred to pack jewelry rather than shoes. In response, I asked if he had enough fishing gear. It’s funny how some conversations end themselves. I recall on the night my son was born that my husband asked me to agree to a drug-free, all natural childbirth. I said certainly, if he would agree to a drug-free, all-natural vasectomy. That conversation stopped so fast, I think the last few words were still swirling around our heads as if quick termination would push the last few unthinkable thoughts back where they came from.

When I arrived at my friend’s house, she showed me to my room with pride and delight, showing me how she readied the corner of the bedside table for me. I could spread out my miniatures in mini fashion. There was even a small water carafe and matching glasses. Those little ceramic buildings always take me back to a simpler time. As a child, all I had to worry about was putting a few things in my little suitcase whenever I went on a trip. It was only when I turned 18 that my mother truly taught me how to properly pack my bags.

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