I used to cringe when I had to get on a plane–knowing how my fellow passengers felt to see me boarding with two little kids. These days I appear harmless, traveling alone—but I’m still somewhat annoying to the people around me.
I’m one of those women who boards the plane knowing my suitcase is too heavy for me to lift into the overhead compartment…the one who makes traffic in the aisle come to a standstill while she stands still– the one looking helpless and looking around for a guy willing to do the heavy lifting.
I might feel more guilty about this if I didn’t feel secure that I’ve done my share. Not lifting other people’s suitcases; my contribution is giving birth to a son with muscles– who I’m sure is the target of other women like me— so I figure it all evens out in the end.
You’d think I’d just check the suitcase. But it’s a point of pride and convenience to be able to travel without checking luggage. And not just because they now charge extra for this privilege. I probably shouldn’t say this hours before I check a bag, but my suitcase ended up lost too many times —once for six months.
Sometimes I can’t manage to shove everything into a carry-on. I think about my younger self and people who travel all over the world for months with nothing but a backpack—and I hate envy them. I also hate envy the people who are organized and fully packed days before leaving on a trip (you know who you are) when everyone knows the normal method is to wait till the last minute.
Now don’t think I don’t feel grateful that I’m able to travel—still, you’d think after so many years and so many miles, packing would be less complicated.
For a plane trip, it’s virtually impossible to pack efficiently—if you’re female. Just the shoes alone—oy. And what if it rains? What if I spill wine something on the only pair of pants I brought? (which happened once) What if I want to exercise while I’m gone? (which hasn’t happened once)
One time I got to my destination and realized for a 7-day trip, I had packed 28 t-shirts. This was brought to my humiliation attention by my niece Rachel. Who happens to be a professional personal organizer (a piece of DNA we don’t share). I have rendered her speechless seeing the contents of my suitcase on my arrival in Washington. If only she could see the contents at the other end, before I put them in. I’m hoping she doesn’t inspect my luggage this time.
Since I’m leaving imminently, I’m writing this as I should be I’m packing for a challenging type of trip—more than a week away, uncertain weather, more than one stop, a variety of events. The good news is that mostly I’ll be in New York– and the Big Apple, pack-wise, is a piece of cake. I just pack black. The only hard part is keeping our cat off my black pile of clothing —since fur is both politically– and seasonally– incorrect.
My college boyfriend used to joke while we watched the talent portion of the Miss America pageant—singing, dancing, twirling batons. His standard line was about an imaginary contestant whose talent was packing a suitcase. In hindsight, I think that must be a God-given legitimate talent.
Meanwhile on my flight I’m hoping to be seated next to someone who’s smiling—and built like Arnold Schwarzenegger.