I’m not a particularly anxious person. I sleep very well. But there is one recurrent dream that manages to take daisy soft sleep and churn it into curdle of stomach heaving, sheet turning panic.
This is how it goes:
I’m due at the airport in an hour and I haven’t packed. I’m running around the house, throwing things into bags, and they’re the wrong things. Cue panic.
It usually comes on about two to three weeks before we’re slated to go away.
I should be good at packing. Every Saturday morning from years 7 -12 I’d throw an assortment of clothes and school books into a bag. It was a well practiced pirouette in the split custody dance. I had staples at each house, but learned to look ahead; Monday was mufti day. I’d need a cool outfit. It was 1994- so where were my scrunchy socks, patterned leggings, big jumper and hiking boots…???
Later on, before the cohabitation, the apartment, the bling and a day in a white dress, I got very good at putting things together for extended stretches at The Hungry One’s house. I had a car- he had a motorbike- it was just easier for me to go to him.
Gym clothes and jeans were easy inclusions. Whether or not I’d need a nice outfit for date night was more of a challenge. A basic black dress and a nice, simple pair of black heels covered most bases. But it was BORING.
Despite the years of practice when it comes to heading overseas, I’ve still had some shockers. The day after the wedding we wandered around in concentric circles with increasing silent panic as we failed to locate the passports. We were due to fly to Paris in 7 hours.
Arriving at Sydney Airport just prior to the Hawaii/LA/Vegas/San Francisco hilarity was another. I realised I’d packed everything (nail polish and all- granted, day four of the itinerary contained a wedding) except for print outs with our returning flight details. There was no way we could prove we were leaving the US within the confines of our visa. Now that was a fun hour in the overseas terminal.
But I’ve also had it somewhat easy- the last couple of trips have all taken place in the confines of northern winter. Bring on two pairs of jeans, a variety of black tops, coloured singlets for layering, a pashmina or two, black cardigan, black coat and long black flat ‘Puss in Boots’ walking boots. Add a black wool pencil skirt, groovy jacket, one shouldered indestructible cocktail dress, one pair of kitten heels and some big earrings for dinners out. Tick tick, boom. Done.
Now here’s the challenge. Dubai. Italy. France Spain. Summer. Walking through cobbled streets. International flights. Catching trains. Small car. Being appropriately dressed to slay down some of the most elaborate restaurants in the world, while packing as little as possible. Still look nice while walking around. There’s every chance some photos are making it up on the wall. Oh, and don’t forget the ski gloves if you really plan on going to Ski Dubai.
Then; don’t forget colour coded internal bags for the suitcase keep the necessary things seperate; socks in one. Underwear in another. Clothes in need of washing in another. Don’t forget…. what else? It’s enough to bring on a bad dream.
So here’s my list of commandments to help us get through the next two weeks and the three weeks after that in one piece:
1. Thou shalt not take more than one book to read (I’ve been known to squirrel away four or five).
2. Thou shalt not take more than three pairs of shoes (1 pair of black ballet flats that I walk to work in all the time- I think they’ll do. 1 pair of thongs for beach time. 1 pair of magical wedding shoes- which manage to be sparkly and comfortable- in case I really need to bling it up.) The Hungry One is allowed one extra pair – his sneakers. He’s in training. He likes to take running tours of cities. And it gives me time to write.
3. Thou shalt stick to a colour palette
Cue navy; little shorts, stripey sleeveless top, blue and pink silk top, El Bulli navy dress (read- more dressed up, but stretchy ) denim skirt, jeans in case it gets cooler in London.
Cue white/ cream: couple of little tops, cardigan.
Cue black: three little tops, one light wool cardigan, one skirt which with a magic pin which doubles as a top (!), the mystical plane-mumu comfortable dress, socks for the plane and an exciting new purchase from metallica- a sweet little dress thing which looks like it could literally fight three rounds with a badger in a suitcase and still come out in one piece. A black and brown little sun dress. A floppy hat. A black bikini.
4.Thou shalt not take too many dresses: oops. Broke this one already. But think they will be useful. Less need for coordinating outfits. Happy to take advice on this one.
5.Thou shalt not take too many accessories: one black belt. One small box of earrings- a few pieces of bigger sparkle. ONE set of beads. One cream bangle. Not five Tori. Just one.
6.Thou shalt limit thyself to bare necessities of toiletries. That means:
7.Thou shalt not take nail polish. No weddings. Get real.
8.Thou shalt carry only the holy trinity of the medicine bag; panadol, stillnox and antihistamines. And Lucas Paw paw.
9. Thou shalt limit thyself to three teeny tiny guide books ‘fast talk Italian, Spanish and French’. Gee aren’t I glad I took Indonesian in high school.
10. Thou shalt print out all necessary travel documents. And thank the powers that be for www.tripit.com
And one extra commandment as a blessing for a happy marriage:
Thou shalt not hassle The Hungry One about the size and scope of the technology bag. The camera charger, phone charger, baby poota, GPS and windshield attachment, master ipod, charging docks, cords, cables and external hard disk all make traveling a delight. Just be glad you’re not responsible for knowing how it all works. Or explaining it at the airport.
Seems there really is no problem too big that it can’t be attacked with a list.
And so the countdown begins.