This Friday, I am going on a trip to Turkey for a week. I am looking forward to Turkish baths, the market, some culture and history, and most of all, some sun. The Boy Person and I booked an all-inclusive resort for what I can say was a seductive price, and we are primed and ready for a week off of work and some serious B&B time (Booze & Beaches).
The only fly in the sunscreen, which is not really a snag but sort of an inconvenience, is my little “anxiety attack.” In more clinical terms, I mean my “spells,” those wee dashes of the vapors I get when it comes to packing. While I am somewhat prone to spells in general, and have a glass pill bottle of modern remedy in urgent hand, I don’t understand exactly why the act of packing for a trip – any trip – sends me into a swoon.
I understand that when other people have a weekend away (I’ve witnessed this), they gaily toss two pairs of socks, a toothbrush, some fresh undies, and a travel guide into their bag, and declare themselves ready for action (I have found this sort is typically male, and they will readily borrow your deodorant and clean tee-shirt when they have none, which your nostrils usually regard as worth the sacrifice). There are also people, like my friend Kadinsky, who have packing down to an art form, and are miraculously prepared for any situation – be it dinner at the Ritz or mountain rescue – by the virtue of one smartly-packed bag,
I think of these two types as the Nonchalant (the former), and the Superhero (the latter), and however much I might wish to emulate either, it is a psychological impossibility for me. I have read articles on packing; I make pre-trip lists that document exactly how many band-aids I will need for my blisters and AA batteries I will need for my camera; I attempt to pack a week in advance, for a trial run: And yet, none of this helps.
I still have a complete, silent freakout every time I have to pack for a trip. In general, my preferred form of procrastination will see me drinking and smoking until the wee hours of the morning, as I try to build up the will to pack (it always starts with “one glass of wine, one smoke, and then I’ll spend half an hour packing”). What ends up happening, nine times out of ten, is that I fall into bed exhausted by stress and Pinot Grigio at 2:00 am, only to rise at 5:00 am to pack for a 9:00 am flight. Usually, I make these flights, albeit a rumpled, hysterical wreck of a person. On other occasions, I have missed these flights, which triples the anxiety and puts me in the heart-attack-risk-range of a 60-year-old lifetime smoker who exists on bacon and Red Bull.
So what to do? For the Turkey trip, I have been working up my packing list for the last week. Thankfully, I went to Ibiza in August of last year, my last proper holiday, and I had to conduct a frantic search for hot-weather clothes at the time (in August in Scotland, this was a challenge, as there were only size-2 denim cutoffs and size-24 bikinis hanging forlornly in the shops, which had made way for Autumn’s bleakest fashions). This exercise always reminds me how annoyed I am that the approximately 1,000 outfits of summer clothes I own are safely tucked up in a warehouse in Texas, while I currently subsist on sweaters. So many sweaters.
Because of last year’s trip, I should have sufficient clothing. I’ve got batteries, beach towels, band-aids, bathing suits, and books. I’ve got sunglasses, a passport, a bikini wax, and sandals. I should be set. But here I sit, paralyzed, unable to face the yawning suitcase open on my bed (getting it down from the wardrobe was an effort). I’ve washed the dishes, painted my toenails, paid the electricity bill, and read two blogs. The only explanation I have for this irrational anxiety I have is the overwhelming need for preparedness I feel. I am scared of forgetting something crucial. I have no knack for planning outfits in advance, despite obsessive checking of weather reports, and so overstuff my case to the point that I inevitably end up paying extra for baggage. I take pride in being low-maintenance – I fear that I am so not low-maintenance, and this point would seem to bear it out.
In conclusion, the one thing I always seem to take on vacation is a jam-packed suitcase of the crazies.