The Eleven Stages of Packing

Jul 26

Yes, yes, I know. Grief has only seven stages. But this is more complicated.

Stage 1: Regret: Why am I taking this trip?patnordam08.jpg
Why? Because it’s a cruise on the Queen Mary 2 (a dream of mine), that’s why, and it leaves from Brooklyn, a cab ride away. No plane! No security lines! No being trapped in a flying sardine can with people who mess up the bathroom in unspeakable ways!

It does seem pretty petty to complain about having to pack. But for me,  packing is always traumatic.

Stage 2: Oh come on, it can’t be that hard
In Mad Men last season, Betty accompanied Dan to Rome at the last minute, and arrived looking as if she had stepped out of a “beauty parlor,” with a stunning outfit for every occasion. Characters in fiction tend to have little luggage and unlimited wardrobes, and spend mere minutes throwing things in a suitcase and getting on with it.

True, on Sex and The City, Carrie does agonize about packing for Paris (how does a girl chose between all those Manolo Blahniks?) and ends up with a lot of luggage. But the sheer number of ultra-chic outfits she wears couldn’t have fit in all the suitcases at Bloomingdales, or on the plane itself, even if the other passengers voluntarily offered to give her their spaces.

Stage 3: Panic.
I realize that this is The Real World, not TV or the movies, and it IS that hard . . .

Stage 4. The making of the lists.
This calms me down because I realize I already have most of what I need. But it also sends me back to Stage 3, thinking of having to shop for rest of it.

Stage 5. The shopping
The first thing I get, crepe cream pants so that I won’t be in black every single evening, turn out to be the last thing, because department stores are just too confusing. Then there’s cosmetics and all the drug store stuff, which have lists of their own and will be gotten at the last minute. See Stages 3 and 4.

Stage 6. Asking for advice
People give you well-meaning but somewhat contradictory advice like: Don’t bring too much – but yes, you must take that smashing red dress even though you will only wear it once. Never ask for advice.

Stage 7: Taken to the cleaners
I realize that whatever I bring had better be clean, so I sort out stuff to wash or send to the cleaners, and this gives me a false sense of security, of Having Gotten Something Done. But this quickly dissolves into . . .

Stage 8: Whoops!I forgot about that!
This is when I realize that I’ve forgotten something significant, like the swimming pool on board, which  requires bathing suits (oh nooo), a cover up, and flip flops. Where did I put those things?

Stage 9: My Life (Or At The Very Least My Apartment) is A Mess

Packing forces me to face the fact that my closets are a disaster, and that to find something in the apartment will take all the detectives of Law & Order and then some. LINK

 (It also forces me to admit that I can’t wear 90% of the cute shoes in those disorganized closets because I can’t walk in them. On land, much less on sea.)

Stage10:The Moment Of Truth.

I have to pack because I’m leaving tomorrow, and nobody else is going to do it for me.

Now I am a whirling dervish of activity, laying out everything on the bed, picking and choosing, putting the things that didn’t make the cut into shopping bags to be dealt with “later,” and somehow, packing it all in, literally.

The case is closed, so to speak. Between now and the minute it goes out the door, there will be doubts, additions, subtractions, and substitutions. But once I’m in the taxi, it’s like sitting down to take a test. You’ve done everything you can, now let it rip.

Stage 11: Acceptance. (I did the best I could.)
Leaving my building I already know, or think I know, some of the mistakes I’ve made. Why didn’t I bring those new sandals, even though they hurt, and why did I take that extra shawl, which I end up wearing every night.

But it’s too late. It’s a fait accompli. I’ve probably got too much of some things, made a few reckless choices, but will have pretty much what I need. And what I’ve forgotten, I’ll either do without or buy on the ship.

Sometimes I think it would be easier to be packing a gun instead of a suitcase, like if I were a cop or a pat_red_dress-blog001.jpgMafia wife or something. But wait! These people have to pack suitcases, too. With guns in them, maybe. And get through Security Gates. To go to places they’d rather not be in.

Forgettabout it. I’m packing my red dress and taking my chances on the Mary. Whatever happens it’ll be a trip.

Originally published as I’m Packin’ in November, 2009.
P.S.The Mary was nice, and I had plenty to wear.

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