Back when Holiday Inns were still motor hotels and they used the flashy sign with the star on it: Mom would pack suitcases for us. Moving always meant a road trip. If the trip was long enough, then Houston was “on the way.” Daddy always took back-to-back leaves on the cross-country moves, so we could take a few extra days there with Granddaddy and Mimi and Mammaw and Pappaw.
Fast forward through five more houses in the next ten years. By the time I was sixteen, I was responsible for my own suitcases. Deciding what to pack for the beach house until Daddy got a job and he and Mom picked a house wasn’t too hard. Four years in a school uniform meant I had a smaller mufti wardrobe than your typical teen. Pack the clothes. Enough paperbacks for a summer. Don’t forget my comfy pillow and Cookie Monster.
The efficient men had already boxed up and commandeered all the household goods and furniture — including the spare house keys and one or two full waste baskets.
Packing for school was no big deal since Mom and Dad lived within an hour’s drive. They even gave me a tiny TV for the dorm, which I don’t think I ever used. College was a no-TV phase for me. Unless you count Battlestar on Sundays.
I never really stressed about packing until that fateful talk show. I’m not sure which one — I’m told she made the rounds. Cheryl and her magical silk bag.
I remember she had this tiny clothesline with built in clips. Only one change of underwear: it only takes minutes to dry a string bikini after all. A bikini and all purpose sarong.
It must have weighed all of a pound. Maybe less. And she said it was all she needed for a week at the beach. This was before electronic books of any kind, much less devices that could display them on a beach.
Ever since, I’ve felt that no matter what I left at home, I was overpacked for that trip.
Five more homes and a lifetime later.
I have spent the last three years moving out of the “last” home, and I’m still not done. Packing up my share of 38 years and fitting it into one bedroom and my share of a garage storage space is an overwhelming task.
This last week I’ve spent packing for a two month trip to Cleveland. Winter clothes are bulky. Which coats? Which scarves? The big suitcase might easily top 50 pounds; don’t overstuff it. How will I choose to fill the downtime?
When we decided to go away for a weekend I didn’t think about how it pushed the timetable for laundry and altered the contents of my carry-on.
So Sunday I get to scurry around one last load of laundry, remember what I forgot and “pack/clean” the last (most stubborn) quarter of my room.
Then I begin my walk about. But that’s the next essay. Assuming I’m still playing.