I admire efficient packers. The sort of people that can stuff 5 items of clothing into a backpack and stretch them out over an 8-day long trip. Logically I understand that it requires wearing things multiple times, and ideally packing items that can multitask (i.e. be worn in different ways). And all of that sounds great. Truly. I just… can’t do it.
For me, packing is a frantic whittling-down of a mound of options. “Options,” as my husband would tell you, is my favorite word. Being indecisive sounds like a personality flaw, but I look at it more as an art form. The knowledge that everything changes, that the future is unknown, that every decision could be the wrong one, is enough to whip some people into a Type-A frenzy, but I luxuriate in the uncertainty. Rather than trying to be organized and force my future to adhere to a strict structure, I choose to Boy Scout it and be preoared for anything. Unfortunately, my well-intentioned methods leave something to be desired when it comes to packing.
Sure, I approach my closet by thinking of how many days I have to cover. I even look up the weather! Then I start assembling outfits and putting them in piles. And by “outfits” I mean pants and shirts or whatever. I’m not fashionable. I have a collection of clothing items I like on their own, that don’t really match any other clothing items because I probably got them at a thrift store, and also I’m stylistically boring so I’ll still basically default to jeans and a sweater no matter how many pairs of velvet leggings I buy.
After my initial pass, I usually end up with twice as many options as I need, and from there I begin the process of elimination. But because I want to leave myself some wiggle room to get creative every day depending on my mood, I only manage to eliminate about 20-30% of what I’ve chosen. Also, I have to take into account where I’m traveling. For instance, if I’m in NYC then I need more pants. Why? Because while I’m normally not above wearing pants a few times before washing, the second I touch a subway seat whatever I’m wearing instantly goes into the “WASH AND/OR LIGHT ON FIRE” category. Is that extreme? Perhaps. But I lived in NYC for 15 years and I’ve seen what touches those seats.
Poop. Poop touches those seats sometimes.
Anyway, whatever I can’t part with gets shoved in a suitcase, along with way too many toiletries, and maybe some shoes I probably won’t wear — and then I’m finally ready to travel. And yet, after ALL OF THAT THINKING, and ALL OF THOSE CAREFULLY MAINTAINED OPTIONS, I still managed to pull a white shirt out of my luggage this morning and wear it for most of the day without noticing that there is a sizable pinkish stain over my right tit. Granted, the stain could theoretically have happened sometime today. But I’m an old pro at staining shit, and this stain looks lived-in. It looks washed. It looks like I have probably worn this shirt at least three times before, never noticing the stain.
Or, if I’m being honest, I suspect I did notice the stain before, and promised myself I’d OxiClean it or whatever, and then didn’t. Looking at the stain right now is ringing some bells for me.
The lesson of this story is that I shouldn’t be allowed to buy white shirts anymore, and that I clearly needed to pack a few more options so I wouldn’t have done this to myself.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go get drinks with my old boss and pretend I’m a capable human being.