So once upon a time...while I was extremely stressed out at my previous job, a decision was made to take a lovely, relaxing trip to Europe for a week. I was going to leave my cell phone in a drawer at home and refuse to check email. It was going to be a fabulous escape from the pressure of my everyday work life, a chance to recuperate mentally, my big chance to get away from it all.
Insert one strong, loud, hearty laugh right about here.
So here it's been...what...8 weeks since leaving the aforementioned stressful job, and probably the absolute last thing I need right now is a vacation. Is it really fair to take vacation when you actually have no job to take vacation from? But the thing is already paid for and thanks to those oh-so-lovely travel websites, it's also completely non-refundable and non-transferable. And to make this all even crazier, when the tickets were originally bought, I was supposed be living in Virginia, so the travel plan was to just fly nonstop back and forth between Washington DC and London. Well obviously that plan went slightly askew. So now I have to drive to LA to catch a flight that will take me all the way back across the country I just drove across to a city I was just living in that will then put me back on track with my original flight leaving D.C. Tuesday evening. Have I mentioned that I get lost driving from my apartment to the convenience store less than a mile away? I have this bad feeling I'm going to completely forget where it is I'm supposed to be going at some point in time and end up on a flight to New Zealand on accident. Which wouldn't be a bad thing, but it's gonna be a bit of a shock when I get off the plane and find I'm in a Lord of the Rings movie set and not stepping off the Tube into the West End of London. But hey, I guess if I'm on a flight that serves beer and peanuts, I'll be all right.....right???
OK, OK, OK...I'll stop complaining. It could be worse, right? I mean, at least I actually get to take a vacation this year. There have been plenty of years where I couldn't get away for anything longer than a weekend. So chaotic travel plans aside, this really is a good thing.
Until I realized I have to pack.
Ahhhh, packing. The absolute ultimate challenge...how do you skillfully cram everything you own into a container less than 1/80th the size of your closet and then to be able to remove said clothing items virtually unwrinkled upon arrival?? Albert Einstein may have been the physics genius, but you'll notice that even HE never came up with a formula for this. After all, packing is not just about being able to skillfully fold and set everything into a suitcase...packing is best example of demonstrating how well you plan for every possible scenario.
Consider...I'm going somewhere that's supposed to be in the mid sixties to low seventies all week. Partly cloudy...possible rain...some sun. Seems easy enough, right? Except...I'm one of those lucky people who's ALWAYS cold. So mid sixties to you is Antarctica on a warm day to me. So first, I need to be sure to grab every long sleeved shirt in my closet arsenal to bring with me. Then there's layering...because you have to consider that mid sixties are just during the day...at night it will get colder (that whole sun disappearing thing). So now I need sweaters...possibly a coat...maybe a scarf...and gloves. Shorts are out..gonna have to go pants and/or jeans. Denium is too bulky, so we'll have to stay with pants. OK...those are the basics...into the suitcase they go.
What happens if I have the opportunity to meet the Queen? I'll need to get dressed up in my absolute finest! OK...maybe I won't meet the Queen...but suppose I need something fashionable to wear to out and about. Now I need evening wear right? OK...grab a skirt, something flashy on top and throw those into the bag.
What if there's a freak heat wave at the last minute? All I have are pants and long sleeved shirts and one skirt!! Dang it! Better grab a pair of Capri pants just in case...maybe a pair of shorts just for good measure. Fold and pack.
Did I mention that I'm also going to Paris on this trip? I can't show up in Paris not looking at least half as stunning as those gorgeous Parisian women, right? OK...so now, in addition to my basic long-sleeved generic shirts I need my stunningly, fashionably up-to-date tees and accessories.... Into the bag those...
YIKES!! Accessories. Shoes! Purses! Jewelry!! 8 days equates to...what...at least 3 pairs of shoes? Need a purse that matches each pair....plus for day and evening wear, so that's what....5 handbags? And jewelry...well, at least that's small. All right...all of you into the luggage.
Next...makeup, hair styling product, and various other toiletries. Let's see...I can condense everything from my everyday large makeup bag to my not-so-large bag. Plus I have to remember those TSA fluid-amount restriction things...so nothing more than 3 ounces. How many Ziploc baggies can I stuff all of this into....4...5...????
And of course, this would probably be a good time to mention that I don't check luggage....ever. And after looking at this trip's itinerary, can you blame me?? I can't guarantee where I'm going to end up, much less my luggage!! So as I'm looking at this ever bulging carry-on suitcase, I'm at the added disadvantage of not even being able to use completely full sized luggage. Dang! This all seemed like a good idea at the time.
All right...let's review...clothes, accessories, evening wear, day wear, night wear, shoes, makeup. What am I missing? Passport. Net book (so I can keep y'all up to date on all the fabulous sights and sounds). Camera...IPod...and now I need chargers for everything.... Oh! And there's that pesky different type of electric outlet dealio that they have in those foreign countries, so I need to grab the adapter for all of these chargers. What's left? Did I grab the kitchen sink?? No? Better throw that in for good measure too!!!
OK. Zipping this thing up is a bit of a challenge...stuff this pant leg into this corner...tuck in that shoe...can I expand this thing out any further? And ziiiipppp! No rip? Phew! All right! It's all in there! Now just to lift this thing off the bed and....
I can't lift this suitcase.
Seriously. I can't move it.
How is this possible? How can I not lift this bag? I only put in a few items. I should be able to just toss this thing over my shoulder and go, right? Wait! Does this mean I need to leave something behind?? But my shoes! My purses! My dress for the Queen!! Now what do I do??
I love vacations. I hate packing.
Where's Albert Einstein when I need him?