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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Ralph and I are spending a week in New Orleans, a thing we have talked about and talked about and talked about doing and then at the last second decided to actually do.

You’d think I never went on a trip before.

You’d think I never left the house, let alone went on a trip.

Last week when we went to Cork & Cow I stood by my front door staring at my hands for a minute wondering if I was forgetting something. And all we were doing was going out for a drink. It’s been so long since I WENT anywhere that I don’t even know how to go.

I have a templated list that I keep in my task manager and use whenever we go on a trip that lasts more than six hours. I made it a long time ago so I don’t lose my mind trying to remember if I packed the underwear or if I got the right bottle of shampoo.

So you’d think it would be easy.

Somehow it’s not, and it’s usually because I’m fat and can’t decide which of the clothes I own that don’t fit will have to work for the duration of the trip. Nothing was different this time.

On the plus side, I did add a few things from Amazon to my wardrobe. After a day at the mall (o, bane!) looking for some leftover summer item to wear in the 99 degree New Orleans heat, I decided to just order anything and everything I saw on Amazon that looked remotely reasonable. That’s what they invented Prime for.

I got lucky. Most of it fit and I only need to look human for six nights. Day doesn’t matter so much because we will be working and hanging out, but when we go out for dinner or to play I want to look presentable.

I now have two dresses, two pairs of pants, one crummy pair of shorts that I can walk around town and eat beignets in, half a dozen t-shirts, two button down shirts and one frou top with ruffled sleeves. Not my favorite articles of clothing, but they will do.

So yeah, taking a trip is fun. Packing is not.

It usually involves me packing every last thing I own so that when I get there and feel fat, I can ignore half of what’s in there.

Plus you never really know what you’re going to be doing. Will we be sitting at a cafĂ© that is poorly air conditioned? Will I be freezing in a bar? It’s an old city, so will the hotel have central air or a terrible window unit that will either run distractingly hot or frigidly cold? These are the things you are too embarrassed to call and ask.

I tell myself that we are going to be in civilization so even if I forget my toothbrush I could go buy one in five minutes. There is really no pressure to remember everything, or much of anything, really. If I have my phone, laptop and a charger, I’m golden.

Inevitably, though, there is a debate over whether to bring the soap AND the body wash, because what if I want both? What if I suddenly need the moisturizer I haven’t used in six months? I mean, I could. If I don’t bring it there is a 99% chance that it will become vital. And I’ll be mad that I didn’t bring it because what room would it have taken up in the luggage?

Hotels often have toiletries but what if they don’t? What if the stores are closed when we get there and I am missing dental floss?

I didn’t have to worry about shampoo this time because I ran out. And the thing I thought was a new bottle of shampoo in my closet is not. So one way or another I am not bringing shampoo. Can I wash my hair with soap if I have to?

So many concerns.

What if I need ice and have to go out to the ice machine in the middle of the night, or, god forbid, to the reception desk? I can’t walk around in my pajamas, and I’m not going to put on slacks and a shirt. I need lounging clothes for those occasions.

Inevitably I bring all the shoes, because what if we’re going to be walking a lot? And what if we’re going to be sitting? And I need shoes for the dress and shoes for the pants. Sometimes they can be the same shoes but sometimes they can’t.

In reality, I pretty much only ever wear the same pair of shoes no matter what I wear, but if I don’t bring the red sandals and the brown ones, I am absolutely going to need them both.

The thing is, I never need what I bring and always want what I don’t.

It’s just the Murphy’s Law of travel.

I’d rather travel light but it never happens. When we went to Kentucky last year, literally for one night, our suitcase was so heavy that the guy who carried it up to our room asked if we had a dead body in it.

We cram so much “just in case” stuff in there that it’s ridiculous.

Because you COULD bring the red shirt, but if you’re in the mood to wear black, then what? Naturally you have to bring both. For a six day trip I packed twelve shirts, because it’s going to be 99 degrees all week and what if we sweat? You can’t go out to dinner in a sweaty shirt that has beignet powder on the front, you need to shower and change, so you have to be prepared.

A six day trip requires twelve plus two pairs of socks because what if it rains? And remember, the whole sweating thing. No matter that it’s going to be 99 degrees and we will almost certainly be wearing sandals, because what if we want to wear shoes?

And I need a book even though I will never read it. I need to pack some snacks so we can eat healthy things in the car or the hotel instead of always going out to eat, but that 100% of the time never happens. The snacks go with me and the snacks come home. Doesn’t stop me from packing them, though.

Plus I just took up colored pencils, so what if we’re just hanging out in the hotel room and I suddenly get the urge to color?

Well, what if you NEED a Hello Kitty?

I have this delusion that I’m just going to spend a few minutes putting our clothes in a suitcase and be done but inevitably it’s a two day affair.

To avoid the whole dead body thing, I recently bought us two half-size suitcases so instead of packing everything into the one giant piece of luggage we had, we can split our stuff and make it easier on ourselves.

It’s a good thing that words come with me in my brain, because even though my head can get heavy enough to tilt to the side after a long day, I don’t have to worry about packing anything else in there.

But I do believe we are finally packed and ready to go. I mean, except for the ten things I will shove into the front pouch of the suitcase tomorrow morning because I’ll panic that I really do need two sweatshirts, and I should probably bring a box of matches.

You know, just in case.

Photo: my cousin’s cat, who wanted to be included in our trip when we last visited. Alas, he had no idea we still had nine more shirts to pack.