It’s a Heavy Burden to Travel Light
I can’t stand traveling anymore, especially by air, because I am unable to cope with packing. Sure, I’ve read countless articles about how to cram a couple tee-shirts and a pair of jeans into a carry-on and trot the globe giddily for weeks on end. But I find it impossible to leave the house for a short four-day jaunt to visit my mother in Kentucky without dragging along a hefty carry-on bag and an SUV-sized hunk of luggage on wheels.
A couple weeks ago, John flew to Minnesota to visit his mom. And, even though the weather is quite unpredictable that far north in the spring, he succeeded in avoiding checking any luggage. “Here, you can use my carry-on bag,” he smugly suggested when it was time for me to prepare for my trip. “You should be able to fit everything you need in here.”
Fat chance of that, and he knew it. With John’s bag bulging at its seams, I barely had packed my first day’s necessities: a change of clothes for my arrival, a light jacket, several books (including a few copies of Sawdust Confessions to sell), some crossword puzzles, my camera and my allergy meds.
Although it’s already quite hot where I live, the forecast for my visit to Louisville is chillier, so I’ve had to include not only my windbreaker but a sweater—actually two, one nice enough to wear to a restaurant in the evening and one more casual for kicking around during the day. Plus an umbrella: it’s been very wet there all spring and the long-range forecast is for thunderstorms throughout the week.
Even if I do live in sneakers, how am I expected to travel with only the shoes on my feet? What if I step in a rain puddle? I’ll need a dry spare. Not to mention the fact that the colorful striping on my most comfortable pair of sneaks clashes with the new plaid shorts I just purchased for the trip, so I’ll need a basic black pair, too
Okay, so John’s bag is more than stuffed. Now for the giant roll-about model: I still need jeans and a pair of dressier slacks—not that we ever do anything dressy when I visit. The big planned event is lunch at a new assisted-living complex which is courting my mother’s business. If we decide to cut the company a check, management won’t care if I’m dressed in diapers. But I care.
I also need shirts to match each pair of slacks and shorts—plus an extra because I’m likely to spill something at some point. I count the days and select a pair of underwear for each, then add one—no, two—just in case I have to go to the hospital or the emergency room. Keep in mind that I am visiting my mother who taught me this kind of stuff.
As she always does, upon my arrival she will give me the once-over in the way men in bars used to do when I was younger and trying to market myself as style personified. “You know, nowadays they say it’s okay if your tee-shirt color doesn’t go with your outer shirt. You can just mix any old colors together.”
“Yes, Mom. I’m still a style maven.”
Speaking of which, I haven’t packed any socks yet. I hope to wear shorts much of the time, so I’ll need low-rise socks—a couple pair in black, a couple in white because each pair of shoes looks better with a different color. No patterns, though. That would just cause me too much decision-making stress. Of course, I’ll also need longer socks to wear with the slacks if I decide to wear them, which is highly unlikely. My mother still wears the pants in the family.
I am absolutely exhausted and I still haven’t begun to prepare my “dop kit”—the more masculine name for a guy’s cosmetics bag. Where is that small can of shaving cream I bought for my last trip? The big container takes up way too much space. I also must remember my moustache trimmer—and to remove the battery so it doesn’t start buzzing madly at the airport as I’m checking in, summoning a platoon of concerned TSA agents.
The best thing that could happen would be for the airline to lose my suitcase. Then I’ll have an excuse for my lack of sartorial splendor – and I’ll learn how “professional” travelers get by with the bare essentials. Hmmm. Just in case that does occur, I’d better pack an extra stick of deodorant in my carry-on and grab another credit card for emergency shopping.
I really must get back to it. My plane leaves in a few hours, and I know I’ve forgotten something. Here’s hoping that you have succeeded at packing lightly for your Memorial Day travels—and that you have a great start to summer.
William Sievert’s new comic mystery novel Sawdust Confessions, set in a quirky LGBT campground, is available at amazon.com and at http://billsievert.blogspot.com. He also can be reached at email@example.com.