The Horror of Packing


Packing. How do you put a representative sample of your entire life in one suitcase? Take two suitcases.

Paul resisted.

“Let’s just travel light, the plane to the safari lodge may have a weight limit.”

I looked at him. “I think a man started that rumor. It can’t be true. There are women like me everywhere.”

The deciding factor for clothes making the final cut is how they will look in photos. Does that sweater make me look fat? Are those pants dowdy? What effect would those decade-old pajamas have on an inadvertent meeting with someone? The sassy pile is puny. The frumpy pile is substantial. I may have to go shopping.

I have been having bad dreams. What if I left a banana in the back of the second drawer of my desk at work? (Somebody check, please). What if someone has to drive my car out of the driveway in a fire and they see the collection of empty diet shakes rolling on the floor? The biggest, however, is the idea that Tucker might not be there when we return. He is old. He weighs 100 pounds. Our house sitter weighs 98 pounds. It is more than that. He fills every corner of my heart. He knows we are leaving. Three weeks in his life is a long time.

There is the obvious. What if I die? I know I should not release that thought to the universe, but it is the most frequent nightmare of the last few days. How will my family get me home? What will my children do with my 21 carefully collected antique beaded purses mounted in shadow boxes? What is the memory of me they will mentally wrap in delicate paper and only open when they really need their mother? What about Lily? Someone please take Lily. In spite of her reputation, she really is a nice cat.

Paul strolled back into the bedroom. “Is there anything you aren’t taking?” He lifted the sassy pile with his toe.

I ignored him. “The safari list says to dress up for dinner. You need khaki pants and a couple of nice shirts. I’ll bring a dress and a skirt.” I hesitated. “I don’t know about my lucky shoes.” My lucky shoes have been everywhere. They debuted at our wedding. They attended an inaugural ball. They attempted salsa dancing. (Not their best outing). They gamely stayed on my feet as we ran through a thunder shower on uneven streets in New Orleans. They know me.

Paul knows them too. The correlation between their distinction as lucky and the likelihood he will get lucky is as close to perfect a psychometrican will get.

“Bring the shoes.” He wandered out the room.

I toss them in the suitcase. They’ve endured more than a decade. They’ve never left the closet unless I was with Paul. They’ll bring me home. Best of all, I’ll have to go shopping to find a dress to show them off.