I went on a trip last week.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking and no, the sentence above has nothing to do with frowned-upon hallucinogens. I really did go on a trip.
I won’t delve into details, but it was fun. Which was unfortunate, because then I couldn’t really complain about anything (although my mother will testify to the fact that I did make a good effort).
So I’ve decided to complain about what comes before a trip – the packing.
I consider bag-packing to be the single biggest First World Problem. I am a perfectionist and an undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive, so for me, packing is synonymous with a nervous breakdown. Even if I need to pack for just a couple of days, I end up on the ground hugging my knees and rocking back and forth in the foetal position while weeping copiously.
The problem is that I don’t really think about packing until the day before I am scheduled to leave. I call this ‘denial’. And when the day finally comes, I am too busy making lists of what to pack to actually pack anything. My mother calls this ‘lunacy’.
Example of my list of things to pack:
Paper towels to clean glasses
Cleaning liquid for glasses
Small pouch to put the glasses equipment in
Once I’m done with my extremely comprehensive list, I have to look for each item. Now I think it’s a universally accepted fact that you never find anything that you’re looking for. There is one exception to this rule however – my mother. Suppose I’m looking for my glasses (yes, this is a recurring theme here). I know it’s on my desk and I scan every corner of it for hours and hours, but I can’t find it anywhere. I go outside for a second to call my mother. We come back to the room, and there it is, sitting right in the middle of the desk, a golden beam of light falling squarely on it. I can almost hear the choir of angels singing.
My mother’s very presence can make objects appear miraculously. Sometimes even the mere mention of my mother’s name does the trick.
Anyway, once I’ve found whatever I need to pack, I’m tasked with the laborious job of putting everything inside the suitcase. As I said before, being an obsessive perfectionist, I cannot rest until and unless every single object fits neatly into its predetermined slot. This…um, let’s say inclination, sometimes has dangerous repercussions. The Great Jeans Crisis of 2012, for instance. I had to fit four pairs of jeans in enough space for three. Let’s just say the crisis ended in a mess of scissors, torn denim and attempted murder.
Now that I think of it, attempted murder features heavily in stories of my packing crises.
Usually to prevent such catastrophes, I make a mind map – a layout of how I plan to arrange my stuff in the suitcase. Shirts in the top right hand corner, jeans in the bottom right hand corner and so on. Sometimes, though, I get a little bit carried away. I once made a large schematic annotated diagram of how to fit every single item required for a seven-day trip in one suitcase. And then, in a fit of misplaced enthusiasm, promptly proceeded to tear it in half. Two-thirds, more like.
So I didn’t go on the trip.
To be fair, my not going on the trip had more to do with me falling ill the next day. But I strongly suspect that my illness was, in fact, a case of nervous breakdown which I owe to the mind map fiasco. Alright, I admit, the doctor said that it was simply a case of the ’flu. I think he’s wrong, because one of his suggestions was that I “drink plenty of fluids”. I don’t trust anyone who says ‘fluids’.
Getting back to the topic at hand: packing. Alright, so I’ve found my stuff and (somehow) stuffed it into the bag. Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that I haven’t suffered a breakdown yet. There’s only one thing left to do now – to lock the suitcase. Now, most suitcases have number locks, and by now, you probably know about my password problem. To put it succinctly: I have the memory of a goldfish in a retirement…well, bowl. In fact, I can’t even remember why I decided to use such an asinine analogy in the first place.
And now I’ve had an epiphany.
You know that John Denver song where he croons, “I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again.”
I know now why he was so unsure about coming back:
He’d have to pack again.