photo: D. Martens

Packing, Unpacking

Last night was my first night sleeping away from home since December 2019. I didn’t sleep well. Strange perfumes on the air, wrong lighting, and waking up with “Where am I?” on the brain. I should have passed out with fatigue, not just from the drive (so much traffic on the highway!) but also from the packing. (Twice my beloved had to remind me to put on a mask going into Tim’s on the drive from Ottawa to Toronto.)

I’ve never been good at packing. I think the very first trip I took abroad contained all of my clothing (that is, all of my clothing could fit in a suitcase), and I was afraid that if I lost that case, I would have to wear the same clothes forever. I was particularly worried about losing my underwear, because they were bought new, whereas the clothes were second-hand or charity shop items. There’s probably some psychological unpacking to do over that fear, but I’m not going to do that.

You’d think, after a lifetime of travel, that packing would be like bicycle riding — a skill once learned, never forgotten. Well, I fell off the bike this week.

First came the problem of what to wear on my family holiday. Now that it is summer, I’ve switched the three long-sleeved t-shirts for three short-sleeved t-shirts — all showing signs of wear (thin, saggy, holey). Do the clothes that have been hanging in the closet still fit? (A: Yes, most of them.) Does the bathing suit? (A: sort of, not really). Packing never used to involve trying clothes on.

Second came desk clear up. Pay the bills that will come due during my absence. Put away the manuscript — god I hate putting away a manuscript, but I also hate leaving it out.

Then I put all the nice clothes in my suitcase, and the next day, took them all out again, because there was no room for anything else.

You get the idea. Pack it all up — clothes, shoes, chargers, books to read, meds, favourite pen. Arrive and unpack what I need. Where is X? Where is Y? Nothing has been put where I need it.

And then, at midnight, unable to sleep, I discover that I forgot to pack my notebook.

To add to the list of skills lost during the pandemic: receiving flowers graciously (I refused a gift because we were leaving…) and packing.

Where is my notebook?