Packing

I hate packing. It doesn’t matter what it’s for, or where I’m going. I always leave it until a few hours before I have to head off, even if the trip has been booked for weeks. When I’m staring at my empty suitcase waiting to be filled, I remember what it was like to be a toddler, filled with petulant disregard for doing what you’re supposed to. 
It’s probably partially because of this hatred of packing that I travel most places with just hand luggage. It doesn’t make the task any more pleasurable though. I throw things in a heap, scowling away and completely incapable of packing full outfits. Luckily I wear mostly black clothes, so most of it matches. That doesn’t stop me from forgetting essentials but I always figure that I can buy anything I need. Anyway, it often turns out that you don’t need the things that you would expect anyway. I have travelled weeks with just a normal sized backpack before (none of those great big hiking ones for me) so people think I have really mastered the art of packing light. That’s not quite true. I’ve mastered the art of throwing stuff in a bag and then making do, no matter how long a trip is. The only reason I’m taking a suitcase this time is because I’m going to England, and I like to bring goodies back with me to stave off homesickness upon my return.
Two years ago, my partner Marc had suggested a little trip together, a hop over to Thailand. He warned me it wouldn’t be a long holiday, and somehow that information leeched onto my brain and refused to be disturbed by anything else he said. It somehow became concrete in my mind that we were going for two nights. He denies ever saying this, and to be honest I’m inclined to believe him. We got there and checked in to our hotel, a very nice place where the staff had looked astonished at my scruffy old half empty backpack. I think it was a 5 star, but that has never altered my packing habits. We rushed for a swim, and after coming back up to our room, I reflected on how nice it all was, “it’s a shame we’re only here for 2 nights”. His head swivelled around to stare at me like a creature from a horror film. “6”, he said, so quietly I barely heard him, “we’re here for 6 nights”. It turns out holidays are much nicer when they’re longer than you expect, kind of like you’ve resigned yourself to it ending but it still keeps going. Day 4 felt like time which had been snatched from nothingness, a gift which allows you to enjoy the present much more than if it had always been there. Sort of like when your boss lets you leave work early, but instead of going home to lie on the sofa, or to the pub for a pint, you have a cocktail in your hand and are on a tropical beach. 
Marc now repeats everything several times, but only because he’s worried that I’ll be questioned by an immigration officer and be either vague and dreamy, or give the wrong information while convinced it’s correct. Anyway, in a pinch, a bikini makes a perfectly fine underwear set. And if you’re somewhere everyone is always sweaty and sticky anyway, no-one can tell if you’re wearing a clean tank top.
So here I sit, looking dolefully at a half packed suitcase, and a pile of random clothes which I threw down on the floor as crossly as though they were Lego bricks from a castle gone wrong. I’m not going to check that I’ve packed properly. It’s more fun to guess, right? I have my passport, my phone and my purse, and I could travel only with those if I needed to.

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