Considering that I travel quite a bit, I am really, really bad at packing.
But really, the problem starts way before I put my suitcase on my bed — a week or two, sometime even a month before a trip when I start to think about where I’m going, what I’m going to be doing, and what clothes are needed for the trip. Or rather, what clothes will my travel-persona needs for the trip. That’s when the shopping starts, in small, frequent bursts.
For business trips I am always by myself — no husband, no kid — and so in a way I feel like I am out of my element, but also feel much more like myself. Like my old self. Whatever that was. When I am with my colleagues I have my work-face on, which is probably not that different from my other faces, but still, it’s definitely not my snuggling-with-Sam-face.
I am a gemini. But I like to say that I am more like triplets or quadruplets because I can definitely move between my various personalities with practiced ease. And so on these trips I am usually packing for at least two, if not more, people.
This upcoming trip is no different. The only complication this time is that I am also going to be seeing two old friends — boyfriends, lovers — from college and, well, that makes the wardrobe requirements even more challenging.
I’d like to think that I am more sophisticated than when I was 20. I have more money to buy clothes and I don’t live in central Pennsylvania, which does nothing for your taste in fashion. But I am a mom — and a mom who works from home full-time — so I don’t exactly do “sophisticated European businesswoman” every day. Clearly.
What do I want to seem like to these men who knew me when I was at least 16 years younger, insecure, needy, unsure of life, love, happiness? (Why I care can be another discussion at a different time, but I think we can safely agree that any woman in my situation would spend a lot of time picking clothes for this trip!) I am none of those things anymore — I am sure of that — but it’s hard to pinpoint and dress for what I am these days. I am just as much the black, kick-ass military jacket I bought, as the silky, sheer shirt with small hearts on it. I am the comfy pair of loafers that I am pretty sure I will wear on the plane, and I am also the 3-inch black patent leather heels that I bought during a moment of weakness. (Or strength?) I am my comfy jeans and my black velvet-y pants. I am my stretchy sports bra and the black lace concoction that lifts and separates just so.
I can’t possibly pack all of this into one suitcase. So after accumulating all of these items over the past two weeks or so, now comes the difficult part of deciding what to actually put in that suitcase. What can I leave behind? What part of me do I have to take along? What do I show and what should I keep hidden? Who have I become and can I recall who I was? Does it matter? Will anyone else care or notice?
I really just want to get the packing part over with. I want to be sitting on the plane, somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, flying into the sunrise over Europe. I want to leave my luggage behind and spend this week with myself — the old and the new.