Thursday, May 31, 2012

But, will I need a sweater?

I have been dressing myself for several years now, though I readily admit I still require some assistance and direction from my personal fashion advisor from time to time. But mostly, I seem perfectly capable of avoiding mixing stripes and plaid, and very often I manage to wear socks from the same approximate family of colors.
But when it comes time to pack, all bets are off.
Me: Will I need a sweater?
She: It's summer. It's hot. Probably not.
It wasn't always like this. Once upon a time, I used to travel on business, sometimes for a week or two at a time, even. And I'd manage--all by myself--to quickly and efficiently cram everything I'd need for a long stretch of hotel living in a good-sized carry-on bag and never miss a trick. Or a sock, either.
Now, apparently, I just have too much time to think about it, resulting in unconscionable gaffs like the time a couple of years ago when I found myself ready to camp out in Vermont in October without a pair of long pants or warm socks to my name. Luckily, my primary clothier, Goodwill, exists in the northeast, too, so I was soon warmer and readier for what turned into a wet, cold few days.
But usually, underpacking isn't the problem. Often, it's just the opposite.
Our back-and-forth trips between Illinois and North Carolina have seen me struggle to organize my own personal luggage into a manageable pile, not to mention the other stuff we find essential for our cross-county wanderings.
Our camping box is a fine case in point.
It started out as a time-and-space-saving way to tidily combine and carry virtually everything we'd need to camp out at a moment's notice in a single, large plastic tub. I envisioned a highly flexible traveling lifestyle that would allow us to stop and sleep under the stars in the little red tent whenever the spirit moved us.
Me: Here's a beautiful spot.
She: Golly, honey, I wish we could go camping, right here in this beautiful spot you've discovered for us.
Me: Never fear, dear. I have everything we need in this trusty camping box.
She: My hero.
...And so on.
But instead, the real scenario generally goes something like this:
Me: Here's a nice spot.
She: Did you remember the tent this time?
Me: I'll be right back.
The sheer volume of camping accoutrements I attempt to stuff in that box virtually guarantees that something will be left behind, smashed to smithereens along the way or, at the very least, lightly coated in peanut butter after the jar opens in transit.
But even if I wasn't trying to recreate the life, times and trappings of Daniel Boone in a polyethylene box, I'd still have to deal with the fact that whenever I travel from one spot to another, I have to try and remember if I'm going to have anything to wear once I reach point B.
It's kind of like that movie, "50 First Dates," where the heroine awakes every morning with her mental slate wiped perfectly clean. Because despite the fact that I know darn well there's gotta be an ample supply of my favored t-shirt-and-shorts ensembles waiting for me in Galva, I just can't quite remember a thing about them, or if they even really exist.
So, in a paranoid paroxysm of panicked overpacking, I will probably gather and transport my entire summertime wardrobe back to the midwest, just in case.
That leaves just one important question as I pack and prepare for this latest homeward jaunt. I know it's been unseasonably warm in Illinois this spring. I know I'll be heading back here before the seasons change again. But still, I wonder.
Will I need a sweater?
I'm absolutely sure there are piles of those waiting for me, too.
But, you see, I just can't quite remember.

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